The Project Gutenberg EBook of Mike, by P. G.

Wodehouse This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at Title: Mike Author: P. G. Wodehouse Release Date: June 15, 2004 [EBook #7423] Language: English *** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK MIKE ***

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LONDON 1909.


[Dedication] TO












CHAPTER I MIKE It was a morning in the middle of April, and the Jackson family were consequently breakfasting in comparative silence. The cricket season had not begun, and except during the cricket season they were in the habit of devoting their powerful minds at breakfast almost exclusively to the task of victualling against the labours of the day. In May, June, July, and August the silence was broken. The three grown-up Jacksons played regularly in first-class cricket, and there was always keen competition among their brothers and sisters for the copy of the _Sportsman_ which was to be found on the hall table with the letters. Whoever got it usually gloated over it in silence till urged wrathfully by the multitude to let them know what had happened; when it would appear that Joe had notched his seventh century, or that

Reggie had been run out when he was just getting set, or, as sometimes occurred, that that ass Frank had dropped Fry or Hayward in the slips before he had scored, with the result that the spared expert had made a couple of hundred and was still going strong. In such a case the criticisms of the family circle, particularly of the smaller Jackson sisters, were so breezy and unrestrained that Mrs. Jackson generally felt it necessary to apply the closure. Indeed, Marjory Jackson, aged fourteen, had on three several occasions been fined pudding at lunch for her caustic comments on the batting of her brother Reggie in important fixtures. Cricket was a tradition in the family, and the ladies, unable to their sorrow to play the game themselves, were resolved that it should not be their fault if the standard was not kept up. On this particular morning silence reigned. A deep gasp from some small Jackson, wrestling with bread-and-milk, and an occasional remark from Mr. Jackson on the letters he was reading, alone broke it. "Mike's late again," said Mrs. Jackson plaintively, at last. "He's getting up," and he was asleep. a sponge over him. tried to catch me, "Marjory!" "Well, he was on his back with his mouth wide open. I had to. He was snoring like anything." "You might have choked him." "I did," said Marjory with satisfaction. "Jam, please, Phyllis, you pig." Mr. Jackson looked up. "Mike will have to be more punctual when he goes to Wrykyn," he said. "Oh, father, is Mike going to Wrykyn?" asked Marjory. "When?" "Next term," said Mr. Jackson. "I've just heard from Mr. Wain," he added across the table to Mrs. Jackson. "The house is full, but he is turning a small room into an extra dormitory, so he can take Mike after all." The first comment on this momentous piece of news came from Bob Jackson. Bob was eighteen. The following term would be his last at Wrykyn, and, having won through so far without the infliction of a small brother, he disliked the prospect of not being allowed to finish as he had begun. "I say!" he said. "What?" "He ought to have gone before," said Mr. Jackson. "He's fifteen. Much too old for that private school. He has had it all his own way there, and it isn't good for him." "He's got cheek enough for ten," agreed Bob. said Marjory. "I went So," she added with a He swallowed an awful so he's certain to be in to see what he was doing, satanic chuckle, "I squeezed lot, and then he woke up, and down soon."

and the missing member of the family appeared. "I bet he gets in before you. "Hullo. you little beast." Marjory bit off a section of her slice of bread-and-jam. Mike was her special ally. He was fond of him in the abstract. Bob disdained to reply. Marjory. he was curiously like his brother Joe. He might get his third." The aspersion stung Marjory. This year it should be all right. whose appearance is familiar to every one who takes an interest in first-class cricket. His figure was thin and wiry. I bet he gets into the first eleven his first term." she said. and was now at liberty to turn her mind to less pressing matters. "sorry I'm late. Marjory gave tongue again. "Go on with your breakfast. He was evidently going to be very tall some day. She had rescued the jam from Phyllis."Wrykyn will do him a world of good. He was among those heaps of last year's seconds to whom he had referred. Mike Jackson was tall for his age. The resemblance was even more marked on the cricket field." she muttered truculently through it. "Hooray! Mike's going to Wrykyn. Mrs. Last year he had been tried once or twice. who had shown signs of finishing it. "Anyhow. "besides heaps of last year's seconds. In face. Mike had Joe's batting style to the last detail. That's one comfort." "Considering there are eight old colours left. and anything that affected his fortunes affected her. "You mustn't say 'I bet' so much." was his reference to the sponge incident." said Bob loftily. "All right. . and he fancied that his cap was a certainty this season. anyway. It softened the blow to a certain extent that Mike should be going to Wain's. There was a sound of footsteps in the passage outside." Bob was in Donaldson's. His third remark was of a practical nature." he said. He had made the same remark nearly every morning since the beginning of the holidays. though lacking the brilliance of his elder brothers. but preferred him at a distance. He was a pocket edition of his century-making brother. He had the same feeling for Mike that most boys of eighteen have for their fifteen-year-old brothers." This was mere stereo. He was a sound bat. Marjory." she said. it's hardly likely that a kid like Mike'll get a look in. His arms and legs looked a shade too long for his body." "We aren't in the same house. The door opened. I bet he does. Jackson intervened. if he sweats.

"Good. The strength could only come with years. Saunders would lie awake at night sometimes thinking of the possibilities that were in Mike. what's under that dish?" "Mike. as follows: "Mike Wryky. "Mike. Bob would be a Blue in his third or fourth year. It was a great moment. and every spring since Joe. Mr. Saunders." began Mr. There was nothing the matter with Bob. Joe's style. was engaged in putting up the net. the professional. Mike looked round the table." "Do you think he'll get into the school team?" . "Mike. and his attitude towards the Jacksons was that of the Faithful Old Retainer in melodrama. For several years now Saunders had been the chosen man. in six-eight time. He felt that in him he had material of the finest order to work upon. sound article. Whereat Gladys Maud. and squealed deafeningly for more milk. "Mike's going to Wrykyn next term. having fixed him with a chilly stare for some seconds. the eldest of the family. with improvements." From Phyllis." he said. what's under that dish?" * * * * * After breakfast. Mike was his special favourite. you're going to Wrykyn next term. In Bob he would turn out a good." "Is he. Mike put on his pads. Mike and Marjory went off together to the meadow at the end of the garden. Jackson believed in private coaching. suddenly drew a long breath." From Ella. and Marjory walked with the professional to the bowling crease. He rose to it with the utmost dignity. Mike Wryky. aged three. Each of the boys in turn had passed from spectators to active participants in the net practice in the meadow. you know. assisted by the gardener's boy. Saunders. ages ago. had been able to use a bat a man had come down from the Oval to teach him the best way to do so."I say. father's just had a letter to say you're going to Wrykyn next term. Gladys Maud Evangeline. Jackson--this again was stereo--"you really must learn to be more punctual----" He was interrupted by a chorus. but the style was there already. and probably a creditable performer among the rank and file of a county team later on. Mike Wryke Wryke Wryke Mike Wryke Wryke Mike Wryke Mike Wryke. So was father. miss? I was thinking he would be soon. put a green baize cloth over that kid. somebody. "I say." "Oh. like Mike. obliged with a solo of her own composition. "All the boys were there." shouted Marjory." groaned Bob. you're going to Wrykyn. "Mike. But he was not a cricket genius." she said.

"they'd have him in the team before you could say knife." "No. Ready. They aren't going to play Master Mike because he'll be in the England team when he leaves school. There's a young gentleman. "If he could keep on doing ones like that. it was all there." "But Mike's jolly strong." As Saunders had said. but I meant next term. a sort of pageant. miss. It's all there. CHAPTER II THE JOURNEY DOWN The seeing off of Mike on the last day of the holidays was an imposing spectacle. every bit. They'll give the cap to somebody that can make a few then and there. miss. so you won't be disappointed if it doesn't happen. miss. It would be a record if he did. you see." "Ah. and it stands to reason they're stronger. miss. Saunders?" she asked. Saunders." said the professional. You know these school professionals. Joe's got." Marjory sat down again beside the net. I'm not saying it mightn't be. The whole thing is. but then he can hit 'em harder when he does hit 'em. I only hope that they won't knock all the style out of him before they're done with him. He's got as much style as Mr. with Master Mike. and watched more hopefully. Don't you think he might. "He hit that hard enough. That's what he'll be playing for. he was playing more strongly than usual. there's too much of the come-right-out-at-everything about 'em for my taste. What are they like?" "Well. and that's where the runs come in. you get these young gentlemen of eighteen. especially at ." "Yes. miss. in a manner of speaking. Still. it's this way. To-day. I was only saying don't count on it. Of Mike's style there could be no doubt. They'll make him pat balls back to the bowler which he'd cut for twos and threes if he was left to himself. Master Mike? Play. isn't he? He's better than Bob. and nineteen perhaps. Saunders? He's awfully good. Even Joe only got in after he'd been at school two years. "Well. It's quite likely that it will. we'll hope for the best. as she returned the ball. too. isn't he? And Bob's almost certain to get in this term. Seem to think playing forward the alpha and omugger of batting. didn't he. you see. miss! Master Mike get into a school team! He'll be playing for England in another eight years. Marjory had to run to the end of the meadow to fetch one straight drive. perhaps."School team. Going to a public school. doesn't know as much about what I call real playing as Master Mike's forgotten." Saunders looked a little doubtful. I don't. miss. only all I say is don't count on it. "Next term!" he said.

these Bocks weren't a patch on the old shaped Larranaga. While he was engaged on these reflections. and Gladys Maud Evangeline herself. was on the verge of the first eleven. his magazines. however. in his opinion. by all accounts. According to Bob they had no earthly. with rather a prominent nose. was to board the train at East Wobsley. and made no exception to their rule on the present occasion. Marjory had faithfully reported every word Saunders had said on the subject. but then Bob only recognised one house. and he was nothing special. is no great hardship. though evidently some years older. and carried a small . and Mike seemed in no way disturbed by the prospect. there was Bob. Jackson seemed to bear the parting with fortitude. a suitable gloom was the keynote of the gathering. and if he himself were likely to do anything at cricket. frankly bored with the whole business. He wondered if Bob would get his first eleven cap this year. Bob.the beginning of the summer term. He was excited. Jackson's anxious look lent a fine solemnity to the proceedings. and Mike settled himself in the corner and opened a magazine. The air was full of last messages. more particularly when the departing hero has a brother on the verge of the school eleven and three other brothers playing for counties. because she had taken a sudden dislike to the village idiot. in time to come down with a handsome tip). practising late cuts rather coyly with a walking-stick in the background. and Mrs. It seemed almost hopeless to try and compete with these unknown experts. He had a sharp face. the train drew up at a small station. Phyllis. and whether they had any chance of the cricket cup. He was alone in the carriage. And as Marjory. It might be true that some day he would play for England. but just at present he felt he would exchange his place in the team for one in the Wrykyn third eleven. Gladys Maud Evangeline's nurse. and Ella invariably broke down when the time of separation arrived. and now the thing had come about. Mike was left to his milk chocolate. A sort of mist enveloped everything Wrykynian. to the end of time will foster a secret fear that their sons will be bullied at a big school. the village idiot. and his reflections. as did Mike's Uncle John (providentially roped in at the eleventh hour on his way to Scotland. (At the very moment when the train began to glide out of the station Uncle John was heard to remark that. He had been petitioning the home authorities for the past year to be allowed to leave his private school and go to Wrykyn. nor profound. He wondered what sort of a house Wain's was. who had rolled up on the chance of a dole. Bob. The train gathered speed. Mothers.) Among others present might have been noticed Saunders. Opposite the door of Mike's compartment was standing a boy of about Mike's size. The latter were not numerous. Meanwhile. and a pair of pince-nez gave him a supercilious look. who had been spending the last week of the holidays with an aunt further down the line. To their coarse-fibred minds there was nothing pathetic or tragic about the affair at all. and the brothers were to make a state entry into Wrykyn together. Mr. He wore a bowler hat. Gladys Maud cried. On the other hand. Uncle John said on second thoughts he wasn't sure these Bocks weren't half a bad smoke after all. Donaldson's. but Bob had been so careful to point out his insignificance when compared with the humblest Wrykynian that the professional's glowing prophecies had not had much effect. smiling vaguely.

instead. he might have been quite a nice fellow when you got to know him. then.portmanteau. and took the seat opposite to Mike. He had all the Englishman's love of a carriage to himself. and Mike's compartment was nearing the end of the platform. ." said Mike to himself. He did not like the looks of him particularly. Mike acted from the best motives. And here. Anyhow. which is always fatal." "No chance of that. but he did not feel equal to offering him one of his magazines." "Because." "Sir?" "Are those frightful boxes of mine in all right?" "Yes. got up and looked through the open window. "Good business. and at the next stop got out. Mike had not been greatly fascinated by the stranger's looks. He opened the door. after all. The trainwas already moving quite fast. but. The other made no overtures. He snatched the bag from the rack and hurled it out of the window. the bag had better be returned at once. The porter came skimming down the platform at that moment." "Thank you. Besides. he seemed to carry enough side for three. whom he scrutinised for a moment rather after the fashion of a naturalist examining some new and unpleasant variety of beetle. you know. there'll be a frightful row if any of them get lost. sir. The fellow had forgotten his bag. let him ask for it." "Here you are. but. "Where's that porter?" Mike heard him say. the most supercilious person on earth has a right to his own property. I regret to say. He realised in an instant what had happened. lying snugly in the rack. Judging by appearances. and wondered if he wanted anything. stared at Mike again. He seemed about to make some remark. sir. Mike noticed that he had nothing to read. That explained his magazineless condition. He was only travelling a short way. and finally sat down. sir. thought Mike. "Porter." The youth drew his head and shoulders in. If he wanted a magazine. The train was just moving out of the station when his eye was suddenly caught by the stranger's bag.

"Hullo." "Where _is_ the bag?" "On the platform at the last station." "Chucked it out! what do you mean? When?" "At the last station. "The fact is. ." said Mike hurriedly. "Have you changed carriages. "I chucked it out. A moment later Bob's head appeared in the doorway. I say. and then you have the frightful cheek to grin about it." The guard blew his whistle. who happened to be in the line of fire. Mike grinned at the recollection. Mike saw a board with East Wobsley upon it in large letters. What you want is a frightful kicking. But fortunately at this moment the train stopped once again. you little beast. * * * * * The glow lasted till the next stoppage. This was one of them. "I thought you'd got out there for good. and the other jumped into the carriage. The head was surmounted by a bowler." said Mike. "Only the porter looked awfully funny when it hit him. where's my frightful bag?" Life teems with embarrassing situations. and. looking out of the window." he shouted. "Don't _grin_. The look on Porter Robinson's face as the bag took him in the small of the back had been funny." Against his will. Then it ceased abruptly." said Mike. dash it." explained Mike. escaped with a flesh wound." "Dash the porter! What's going to happen about my bag? I can't get out for half a second to buy a magazine without your flinging my things about the platform." "It wasn't that.(Porter Robinson." said the stranger. which did not occur for a good many miles. The bereaved owner disapproved of this levity. "I'm awfully sorry. for the train had scarcely come to a standstill when the opening above the door was darkened by a head and shoulders." The situation was becoming difficult. for he wished to treat the matter with fitting solemnity. You go chucking bags that don't belong to you out of the window. though not intentionally so.) Then he sat down again with the inward glow of satisfaction which comes to one when one has risen successfully to a sudden emergency. and a pair of pince-nez gleamed from the shadow. "Then. or what?" "No. It hit a porter. and said as much. "There's nothing to laugh at.

" said Bob. only he hadn't really." From this point onwards Mike was out of the conversation altogether. "Where did you spring from? Do you know my brother? He's coming to Wrykyn this term." Mike gathered that Gazeka and Firby-Smith were one and the same person. I mean. "I've made rather an ass of myself. "Oh. Mike. Rather rough on a chap like Wyatt. I chucked Firby-Smith's portmanteau out of the window." agreed Firby-Smith. never mind. there you are. Pretty bad having a step-father at all--I shouldn't care to--and when your house-master and your step-father are the same man. and all that sort of thing. Lots of things in it I wanted. "Hullo. Mention was made of rows in which he had played a part in the past. He took up his magazine again. "He and Wain never get on very well. rather lucky you've met. They'll send it on by the next train. and that he was going into it directly after the end of this term. what have you been doing in the holidays? I didn't know you lived on this line at all. It's just the sort . though not aggressive. "I say. then it's certain to be all right." "Frightful." "Naturally. aren't you? Had it got your name and address on it. are you in Wain's?" he said. discussing events of the previous term of which Mike had never heard. I should rot about like anything. His eye fell upon Mike's companion. and that contributions from him to the dialogue were not required. Gazeka!" he exclaimed." "You're a bit of a rotter." "Oh. holidays as well as term. if I were in Wyatt's place. He told me last term that Wain had got a nomination for him in some beastly bank. He realised that school politics were being talked." "Oh. and it's at a station miles back. listening the while." said Mike. "I swear. what happened was this. and you'll get it either to-night or to-morrow. By the way. They were discussing Wain's now. It's bound to turn up some time. thinking he'd got out. and yet they have to be together." "Frightful nuisance. Bob and Firby-Smith talked of Wrykyn. He grinned again."Hullo. Firby-Smith's head of Wain's. Firby-Smith continued to look ruffled. it's a bit thick. all the same. Names came into their conversation which were entirely new to him." "I mean. Bob. it's all right. He's in your house. Gazeka?" "Yes. Good cricketer and footballer. Wyatt was apparently something of a character. The name Wyatt cropped up with some frequency. It isn't as if he'd anything to look forward to when he leaves. "It must be pretty rotten for him." said Bob. I say.

Crossing the square was a short. but how convey this fact delicately to him? "Look here. Plainly a Wrykynian. leaving him to find his way for himself. Go straight on. But here they were alone." Mike looked out of the window. There is no subject on which opinions differ so widely as this matter of finding the way to a place. it is simplicity itself. and lost his way. "Firby-Smith and I are just going to get some tea. I suppose they think there'd be nothing to do. a blue blazer. . The man might at least have shown him where to get some tea." Bob looked at Mike. and looked about him. Mike made for him." And his sole prop in this world of strangers departed. on alighting. Mike. and tell you all about things. all more or less straight. having smashed in one another's hats and chaffed the porters. and it's the only Christian train they run. They'll send your luggage on later. that the platform was entirely free from Wrykynians. CHAPTER III MIKE FINDS A FRIENDLY NATIVE Mike was surprised to find. Probably Wain will want to see you. which is your dorm." he said." "What shall _we_ do?" said Bob. and. Probably he really does imagine that he goes straight on. and a straw hat with a coloured band. ignoring the fact that for him the choice of three roads. thick-set figure clad in grey flannel trousers." "Don't want to get here before the last minute they can possibly manage. To the man who knows. He was beginning to feel bitter towards Bob.of life he'll hate most." he said. A remark of Bob's to Firby-Smith explained this. has no perplexities. I think you'd better nip up to the school. Go in which direction he would. Silly idea. There was no disguising the fact that he would be in the way. with a happy inspiration. "Heaps of them must come by this line. On the fourth repetition of this feat he stopped in a disheartened way. he always seemed to arrive at a square with a fountain and an equestrian statue in its centre. "Come and have some tea at Cook's?" "All right. here we are. At this moment a ray of hope shone through the gloom. It was Wrykyn at last. made their way to the school buildings in a solid column. Hullo. "Any one'll tell you the way to the school. "Can't make out why none of the fellows came back by this train. So long." he concluded airily. Mike started out boldly. The man who does not know feels as if he were in a maze. In all the stories he had read the whole school came back by the same train. See you later. and so on.

you know. "Make any runs? What was your best score?" "Hundred and twenty-three." "Oh." said Mike. with all the modern improvements? Are there any more of you?" "Not brothers. who's seen it in the lining of his hat? Who's been talking about me?" "I heard my brother saying something about you in the train." "I know." said Mike. "That's pretty useful. you know." "Are you there. too?" "I played a bit at my last school." said the other. What I don't know about Wain's isn't worth knowing. Any more centuries?" "Yes. He's in Donaldson's. "You look rather lost. reminiscent of a good-tempered bull-dog. as the ass in the detective story always says to the detective. "Oh. and a pair of very deep-set grey eyes which somehow put Mike at his ease. "Pity. You can't quite raise a team." said the stranger." he said. please. then?" asked Mike. latest model. shuffling. How did you know my name." He was in terror lest he should seem to be bragging." said Mike. "Hullo. and that their owner was a person who liked most people and whom most people liked. then? Are you a sort of young Tyldesley. A stout fellow." said Mike awkwardly. So you're the newest make of Jackson."Can you tell me the way to the school. too?" "Am I not! Term _and_ holidays." "Who's your brother?" "Jackson. And . square-jawed face. "Which house do you want?" "Wain's. this is fame." added Mike modestly. Only a private school. You know. are you Wyatt. it was really awfully rotten bowling. He felt that they saw the humour in things. "Been hunting for it long?" "Yes. There's no close season for me. There was something singularly cool and genial about them." "Wain's? Then you've come to the right man this time. "How many?" "Seven altogether. "It was only against kids. He had a pleasant. you're going to the school.

I was just going to have some tea. The next terrace was the biggest of all. Everything looked so big--the buildings." "Yes. there was a good deal of punting and drop-kicking in the winter and fielding-practice in the summer. "He's all right." "The old Gazeka? I didn't know he lived in your part of the world. On the first terrace was a sort of informal practice ground. I know. At Emsworth. It is always delicate work answering a question like this unless one has some sort of an inkling as to the views of the questioner. You come along. The Wrykyn playing-fields were formed of a series of huge steps. Mike followed his finger.I was a good bit bigger than most of the chaps there. Look here. To make his entrance into this strange land alone would have been more of an ordeal than he would have cared to face." said Mike. cut out of the hill." "Oh. a shade too narrow ." It was about a mile from the tea-shop to the school. walking along the path that divided the two terraces. too. He was glad that he had met Wyatt. Mike's first impression on arriving at the school grounds was of his smallness and insignificance." "What's King-Hall's?" "The private school I was at. At the top of the hill came the school. and took in the size of his new home. it's jolly big." said Wyatt. and formed the first eleven cricket ground." said Mike. "Why is he called Gazeka?" he asked after a pause. everything." he said. That's his. "How many fellows are there in it?" "Thirty-one this term. down in the Easter holidays. thanks awfully. where. They skirted the cricket field." said Wyatt. "My brother and Firby-Smith have gone to a place called Cook's." said Mike cautiously. I believe." "All the same. answering for himself. "He's got a habit of talking to one as if he were a prince of the blood dropping a gracious word to one of the three Small-Heads at the Hippodrome. which gave me a bit of an advantage. And my pater always has a pro. "Don't you think he looks like one? What did you think of him?" "I didn't speak to him much. He's head of Wain's. He felt out of the picture. "That's Wain's. but that's his misfortune." Emsworth seemed very remote and unreal to him as he spoke. seven centuries isn't so dusty against any bowling. We shall want some batting in the house this term. though no games were played on it. "I say. the grounds. It's too far to sweat to Cook's. Let's go in here. pointing to one of half a dozen large houses which lined the road on the south side of the cricket field. We all have our troubles." "That's more than there were at King-Hall's. a beautiful piece of turf.

for its length, bounded on the terrace side by a sharply sloping bank, some fifteen feet deep, and on the other by the precipice leading to the next terrace. At the far end of the ground stood the pavilion, and beside it a little ivy-covered rabbit-hutch for the scorers. Old Wrykynians always claimed that it was the prettiest school ground in England. It certainly had the finest view. From the verandah of the pavilion you could look over three counties. Wain's house wore an empty and desolate appearance. There were signs of activity, however, inside; and a smell of soap and warm water told of preparations recently completed. Wyatt took Mike into the matron's room, a small room opening out of the main passage. "This is Jackson," he said. "Which dormitory is he in, Miss Payne?" The matron consulted a paper. "He's in yours, Wyatt." "Good business. Who's in the other bed? There are going to be three of us, aren't there?" "Fereira was to have slept there, but we have just heard that he is not coming back this term. He has had to go on a sea-voyage for his health." "Seems queer any one actually taking the trouble to keep Fereira in the world," said Wyatt. "I've often thought of giving him Rough On Rats myself. Come along, Jackson, and I'll show you the room." They went along the passage, and up a flight of stairs. "Here you are," said Wyatt. It was a fair-sized room. The window, heavily barred, looked out over a large garden. "I used to sleep here alone last term," said Wyatt, "but the house is so full now they've turned it into a dormitory." "I say, I wish these bars weren't here. It would be rather a rag to get out of the window on to that wall at night, and hop down into the garden and explore," said Mike. Wyatt looked at him curiously, and moved to the window. "I'm not going to let you do it, of course," he said, "because you'd go getting caught, and dropped on, which isn't good for one in one's first term; but just to amuse you----" He jerked at the middle bar, and the next moment he was standing with it in his hand, and the way to the garden was clear. "By Jove!" said Mike. "That's simply an object-lesson, you know," said Wyatt, replacing the bar, and pushing the screws back into their putty. "I get out at night myself because I think my health needs it. Besides, it's my last term,

anyhow, so it doesn't matter what I do. But if I find you trying to cut out in the small hours, there'll be trouble. See?" "All right," said Mike, reluctantly. "But I wish you'd let me." "Not if I know it. Promise you won't try it on." "All right. But, I say, what do you do out there?" "I shoot at cats with an air-pistol, the beauty of which is that even if you hit them it doesn't hurt--simply keeps them bright and interested in life; and if you miss you've had all the fun anyhow. Have you ever shot at a rocketing cat? Finest mark you can have. Society's latest craze. Buy a pistol and see life." "I wish you'd let me come." "I daresay you do. Not much, however. Now, if you like, I'll take you over the rest of the school. You'll have to see it sooner or later, so you may as well get it over at once."

CHAPTER IV AT THE NETS There are few better things in life than a public school summer term. The winter term is good, especially towards the end, and there are points, though not many, about the Easter term: but it is in the summer that one really appreciates public school life. The freedom of it, after the restrictions of even the most easy-going private school, is intoxicating. The change is almost as great as that from public school to 'Varsity. For Mike the path was made particularly easy. The only drawback to going to a big school for the first time is the fact that one is made to feel so very small and inconspicuous. New boys who have been leading lights at their private schools feel it acutely for the first week. At one time it was the custom, if we may believe writers of a generation or so back, for boys to take quite an embarrassing interest in the newcomer. He was asked a rain of questions, and was, generally, in the very centre of the stage. Nowadays an absolute lack of interest is the fashion. A new boy arrives, and there he is, one of a crowd. Mike was saved this salutary treatment to a large extent, at first by virtue of the greatness of his family, and, later, by his own performances on the cricket field. His three elder brothers were objects of veneration to most Wrykynians, and Mike got a certain amount of reflected glory from them. The brother of first-class cricketers has a dignity of his own. Then Bob was a help. He was on the verge of the cricket team and had been the school full-back for two seasons. Mike found that people came up and spoke to him, anxious to know if he were Jackson's brother; and became friendly when he replied in the affirmative. Influential relations are a help in every stage of life. It was Wyatt who gave him his first chance at cricket. There were nets

on the first afternoon of term for all old colours of the three teams and a dozen or so of those most likely to fill the vacant places. Wyatt was there, of course. He had got his first eleven cap in the previous season as a mighty hitter and a fair slow bowler. Mike met him crossing the field with his cricket bag. "Hullo, where are you off to?" asked Wyatt. "Coming to watch the nets?" Mike had no particular programme for the afternoon. Junior cricket had not begun, and it was a little difficult to know how to fill in the time. "I tell you what," said Wyatt, "nip into the house and shove on some things, and I'll try and get Burgess to let you have a knock later on." This suited Mike admirably. A quarter of an hour later he was sitting at the back of the first eleven net, watching the practice. Burgess, the captain of the Wrykyn team, made no pretence of being a bat. He was the school fast bowler and concentrated his energies on that department of the game. He sometimes took ten minutes at the wicket after everybody else had had an innings, but it was to bowl that he came to the nets. He was bowling now to one of the old colours whose name Mike did not know. Wyatt and one of the professionals were the other two bowlers. Two nets away Firby-Smith, who had changed his pince-nez for a pair of huge spectacles, was performing rather ineffectively against some very bad bowling. Mike fixed his attention on the first eleven man. He was evidently a good bat. There was style and power in his batting. He had a way of gliding Burgess's fastest to leg which Mike admired greatly. He was succeeded at the end of a quarter of an hour by another eleven man, and then Bob appeared. It was soon made evident that this was not Bob's day. Nobody is at his best on the first day of term; but Bob was worse than he had any right to be. He scratched forward at nearly everything, and when Burgess, who had been resting, took up the ball again, he had each stump uprooted in a regular series in seven balls. Once he skied one of Wyatt's slows over the net behind the wicket; and Mike, jumping up, caught him neatly. "Thanks," said Bob austerely, as Mike returned the ball to him. He seemed depressed. Towards the end of the afternoon, Wyatt went up to Burgess. "Burgess," he said, "see that kid sitting behind the net?" "With the naked eye," said Burgess. "Why?" "He's just come to Wain's. He's Bob Jackson's brother, and I've a sort of idea that he's a bit of a bat. I told him I'd ask you if he could have a knock. Why not send him in at the end net? There's nobody there now." Burgess's amiability off the field equalled his ruthlessness when

bowling. "All right," he said. "Only if you think that I'm going to sweat to bowl to him, you're making a fatal error." "You needn't do a thing. Just sit and watch. I rather fancy this kid's something special." * * * * *

Mike put on Wyatt's pads and gloves, borrowed his bat, and walked round into the net. "Not in a funk, are you?" asked Wyatt, as he passed. Mike grinned. The fact was that he had far too good an opinion of himself to be nervous. An entirely modest person seldom makes a good batsman. Batting is one of those things which demand first and foremost a thorough belief in oneself. It need not be aggressive, but it must be there. Wyatt and the professional were the bowlers. Mike had seen enough of Wyatt's bowling to know that it was merely ordinary "slow tosh," and the professional did not look as difficult as Saunders. The first half-dozen balls he played carefully. He was on trial, and he meant to take no risks. Then the professional over-pitched one slightly on the off. Mike jumped out, and got the full face of the bat on to it. The ball hit one of the ropes of the net, and nearly broke it. "How's that?" said Wyatt, with the smile of an impresario on the first night of a successful piece. "Not bad," admitted Burgess. A few moments later he was still more complimentary. He got up and took a ball himself. Mike braced himself up as Burgess began his run. This time he was more than a trifle nervous. The bowling he had had so far had been tame. This would be the real ordeal. As the ball left Burgess's hand he began instinctively to shape for a forward stroke. Then suddenly he realised that the thing was going to be a yorker, and banged his bat down in the block just as the ball arrived. An unpleasant sensation as of having been struck by a thunderbolt was succeeded by a feeling of relief that he had kept the ball out of his wicket. There are easier things in the world than stopping a fast yorker. "Well played," said Burgess. Mike felt like a successful general receiving the thanks of the nation. The fact that Burgess's next ball knocked middle and off stumps out of the ground saddened him somewhat; but this was the last tragedy that occurred. He could not do much with the bowling beyond stopping it and feeling repetitions of the thunderbolt experience, but he kept up his end; and a short conversation which he had with Burgess at the end of his innings was full of encouragement to one skilled in reading

between the lines. "Thanks awfully," said Mike, referring to the square manner in which the captain had behaved in letting him bat. "What school were you at before you came here?" asked Burgess. "A private school in Hampshire," said Mike. "King-Hall's. At a place called Emsworth." "Get much cricket there?" "Yes, a good lot. One of the masters, a chap called Westbrook, was an awfully good slow bowler." Burgess nodded. "You don't run away, which is something," he said. Mike turned purple with pleasure at this stately compliment. Then, having waited for further remarks, but gathering from the captain's silence that the audience was at an end, he proceeded to unbuckle his pads. Wyatt overtook him on his way to the house. "Well played," he said. "I'd no idea you were such hot stuff. You're a regular pro." "I say," said Mike gratefully, "it was most awfully decent of you getting Burgess to let me go in. It was simply ripping of you." "Oh, that's all right. If you don't get pushed a bit here you stay for ages in the hundredth game with the cripples and the kids. Now you've shown them what you can do you ought to get into the Under Sixteen team straight away. Probably into the third, too." "By Jove, that would be all right." "I asked Burgess afterwards what he thought of your batting, and he said, 'Not bad.' But he says that about everything. It's his highest form of praise. He says it when he wants to let himself go and simply butter up a thing. If you took him to see N. A. Knox bowl, he'd say he wasn't bad. What he meant was that he was jolly struck with your batting, and is going to play you for the Under Sixteen." "I hope so," said Mike. The prophecy was fulfilled. On the following Wednesday there was a match between the Under Sixteen and a scratch side. Mike's name was among the Under Sixteen. And on the Saturday he was playing for the third eleven in a trial game. "This place is ripping," he said to himself, as he saw his name on the list. "Thought I should like it." And that night he wrote a letter to his father, notifying him of the fact.

Mike had skipped these years. "Well. at school. "Oh. His state of mind was not improved by an interview with Bob. Some evil genius put it into Bob's mind that it was his duty to be. The atmosphere was one of constraint and awkwardness. He knew quite well that he was regarded as a find by the cricket authorities. Beyond asking him occasionally. but Bob did not know this. "Oh. the Heavy Elder Brother to Mike. all right"). years of wholesome obscurity make us ready for any small triumphs we may achieve at the end of our time there. and his batting was undeniable. He was older than the average new boy. He was far more successful than he had any right to be at his age. to give him good advice. The arrival of tea was the cue for conversation. for his was not a nature at all addicted to conceit. Mike arrived. and stared in silence at the photographs on the walls. "Sugar?" asked Bob. He only knew that he had received a letter from home." said Mike. and the knowledge was not particularly good for him. if only for one performance. how are you getting on?" asked Bob. It is never the smallest use for an elder brother to attempt to do anything for the good of a younger brother at school. Bob was changing into his cricket things. all right. in which his mother had assumed without evidence that he was leading Mike by the hand round the pitfalls of life at Wrykyn. when they met." . It did not make him conceited. he was not aware of having done anything brotherly towards the youngster. The effect it had on him was to make him excessively pleased with life. As a rule. Silence. and if it comes before we are prepared for it." said Mike.CHAPTER V REVELRY BY NIGHT A succession of events combined to upset Mike during his first fortnight at school. "How many lumps?" "Two. And when Mike was pleased with life he always found a difficulty in obeying Authority and its rules. how he was getting on (a question to which Mike invariably replied. half-defiant manner peculiar to small brothers in the presence of their elders. There is nothing more heady than success. for the latter rebels automatically against such interference in his concerns." "Cake?" "Thanks. So he asked Mike to tea in his study one afternoon before going to the nets. sidling into the study in the half-sheepish. it is apt to throw us off our balance. and his conscience smote him. please. "Thanks.

" said Bob. thanks. "What!" said Mike." "What do you mean?" said Mike. outraged. "Yes. I'm not saying anything against you so far. "He said he'd look after you. "It's only this. filled his cup. In sombre silence he reached out for the jam." he said at length. in the third and so on. There's nothing that gets a chap so barred here as side. "Oh." "I asked Firby-Smith to keep an eye on you. and spoke crushingly. Jackson. "I can look after myself all right." Mike's feelings were too deep for words. making things worse. Only you see what I mean. if you don't watch yourself. "You know." said Mike cautiously. The mere idea of a worm like the Gazeka being told to keep an eye on _him_ was degrading. "Like Wain's?" "Ripping. you've got on so well at cricket. satisfied that he had delivered his message in a pleasant and tactful manner." Bob saw an opening for the entry of the Heavy Elder Brother. "Seen you about with Wyatt a good deal.Silence. while Bob. I'm not saying a word against you so far. "He needn't trouble. there's just a chance you might start to side about a bit soon. What I mean to say is. Look after him! Him!! M. Bob pulled himself together. "Like him?" "Yes. You know. "Look here." added Bob." he said. I should take care what ." he said. of the third eleven!!! Mike helped himself to another chunk of cake. and cast about him for further words of wisdom. "Yes?" said Mike coldly. Mike. He was only doing it now to ease his conscience." said Mike. I should keep an eye on myself if I were you. "I shouldn't--I mean." said Bob. "I'm only saying it for your good----" I should like to state here that it was not Bob's habit to go about the world telling people things solely for their good. of course. "You've been all right up to now." said Bob.

"I promised I would. I've got to be off myself. spoke again. Don't make a frightful row in the house. "All right. but still----" "Still what?" "Well. He's never been dropped on yet. young man. You'd better be going and changing. I mean." he said. But don't you go doing it. "What rot!" said Mike. followed by some strenuous fielding in the deep. Not that he would try to. Don't cheek your . having deposited his cricket-bag in a corner of the room and examined himself carefully in a looking-glass that hung over the mantelpiece. I'm going over to the nets. he's an awfully good chap. met Mike at the door of Wain's. He was just at the age when one is most sensitive to patronage and most resentful of it. I see Burgess has shoved you down for them.") "Come up to my study. He felt very sore against Bob. He doesn't care a hang what he does. but if you go on breaking rules you're bound to be sooner or later. But you might think it was the blood thing to do to imitate him. it doesn't matter much for him. "I've been hearing all about you. and preserved his silence till Firby-Smith." Mike shuffled." Mike followed him in silence to his study. he's the sort of chap who'll probably get into some thundering row before he leaves." Mike changed for net-practice in a ferment of spiritual injury. and all might have been well but for the intervention of Firby-Smith. so said nothing. Stick on here a bit. But don't let him drag you into anything. "Your brother has asked me to keep an eye on you. Thing is. "You'll get on all right if you behave yourself. That youth. young man. See what I mean?" Bob was well-intentioned. soothed his ruffled feelings to a large extent. turning round and examining himself in the mirror again. and the first thing you knew you'd be dropped on by Wain or somebody. "You're a frightful character from all accounts. It was maddening to be treated as an infant who had to be looked after." said the Gazeka." "What do you mean?" "Well." Mike's soul began to tie itself into knots again. because he's leaving at the end of the term. if you want any more tea. (Mike disliked being called "young man. of course. but tact did not enter greatly into his composition. He's that sort of chap. A good innings at the third eleven're doing with Wyatt. "Ah. I wanted to see you." Mike could not think of anything to say that was not rude. though. all spectacles and front teeth.

Then you'll be able to put your hand on your little heart and do a big George Washington act. you can't. Overcoming this feeling.elders and betters. "Is that you. He got out of bed and went to the window. with or without an air-pistol. laying the bar he had extracted on the window-sill. and Mike always found it difficult to sleep unless it was dark. increased. he burned. too. He was awakened from a dream in which he was batting against Firby-Smith's bowling. I shall be deadly. but with rage and all that sort of thing. and the second time he gave up the struggle. The room was almost light. He opened his eyes. and saw a dark figure silhouetted against the light of the window. Mike saw him disappearing along the wall. He dropped off to sleep full of half-formed plans for asserting himself. "No." "Do you think you will be caught?" "Shouldn't be surprised. he would have been out after moths with a lantern. just the sort of night on which. Wyatt?" "Are you awake?" said Wyatt." "I say." said Wyatt. A sharp yowl from an unseen cat told of Wyatt's presence somewhere in the big garden." said Wyatt. would just have suited Mike's mood. as I'm morally certain to be some day. * * * * * In the dormitory that night the feeling of revolt. "When I'm caught. Twice he heard the quarters chime from the school clock. not with shame and remorse." he said. "Hullo. wriggled out. "The cats are particularly strong on the wing just now. they're bound to ask if you've ever been out as well as me. That's all. Go to sleep and dream that you're playing for the school against Ripton. but he had never felt wider awake. "Sorry if I've spoiled your beauty sleep. Like Eric. Wash. You'll find that useful when the time comes. He turned over on his side and shut his eyes. he walked out of the room. by a slight sound." "Are you going out?" "I am. Mustn't miss a chance like this. and up to his dormitory to change. Anyhow. He sat up in bed. and hitting it into space every time. of wanting to do something actively illegal. He would have given much to be with him." Mike had a vague idea of sacrificing his career to the momentary pleasure of flinging a chair at the head of the house. So long. but he ." And Wyatt. Specially as there's a good moon. or night rather. but it was not so easy to do it. It was a lovely night. * * * * * It was all very well for Wyatt to tell him to go to sleep. you stay where you are. can't I come too?" A moonlight prowl. Cut along. if he had been at home.

one leading into Wain's part of the house. Field). _what was that?"_ It was a rattling at the handle of the door. Mike felt that he could just do with a biscuit. He crept quietly out of the dormitory. but nothing had been said about exploring inside the house.realised that he was on parole. Everybody would be in bed. He had given his word that he would not go into the garden. Mr. in spite of the fact that all was darkness. A rattling that turned almost immediately into a spirited banging.. he examined the room. wound the machine up. He turned away from the window and sat down on his bed. he proceeded to look about him. or he may have been in a particularly reckless mood. And this was where the trouble began. The man who holds the ace of trumps has no . perhaps. and an apple. He took some more biscuits. And there must be all sorts of things to interest the visitor in Wain's part of the house. There was a little soda-water in the syphon. Field actually did so. As it swished into the glass." And. There were the remains of supper on the table. This was Life. Down the stairs. consoling thought came to him. then. it made a noise that seemed to him like three hundred Niagaras."_ Mike stood and drained it in. after a few preliminary chords. And there were bound to be biscuits on the sideboard in Wain's dining-room. and up a few more stairs at the end The beauty of the position was that the dining-room had two doors. Godfrey Field would sing "The Quaint Old Bird. Mike cut himself some cheese and took some biscuits from the box. and set it going. Good gracious_ (sang Mr. "Who is there?" inquired the voice. It was quite late now. Mike recognised it as Mr. All thought of risk left him. The next moment. but nobody else in the house appeared to have noticed it. Then a beautiful. _"Auntie went to Aldershot in a Paris pom-pom hat. He had promised not to leave the house. Mr. To make himself more secure he locked that door. turning up the incandescent light. On a table in one corner stood a small gramophone.. The fact remains that _he_ inserted the first record that came to hand. The soda-water may have got into his head. along the passage to the left. And gramophones happened to be Mike's particular craze. He had been long enough in the house to know the way. Wain's. He finished it. as indeed he was. feeling a new man. very loud and nasal. the other into the boys' section. _". He was not alarmed. Wain's dining-room repaid inspection. It would be quite safe. and there was an end of it. feeling that he was doing himself well. a voice from the machine announced that Mr. After which. Any interruption that there might be would come from the further door. Food. A voice accompanied the banging.

there was no chance of his being taken in the rear--his only danger. His position was impregnable. he must keep Mr. that if Mr." The answer was simple. Two minutes later he was in bed. Wain. "He'd clear out. Then he began to be equal to it. It was open now. He had taken care to close the dining-room door after him. He jumped out of bed. which had been pegging away patiently at "The Quaint Old Bird" all the time. He would be caught for a certainty! CHAPTER VI IN WHICH A TIGHT CORNER IS EVADED For a moment the situation paralysed Mike. and get caught. and could get away by the other. and found that they were after him. blissfully unconscious of what was going on indoors." pondered Mike. Mike crept across the room on tip-toe and opened the window. and dashed down the dark stairs. Raffles have done in a case like this? Suppose he'd been after somebody's jewels. suspicion would be diverted. The main point. and it might flash upon their minds that there were two entrances to the room. "Now what. while the other door offered an admirable and instantaneous way of escape. to see that all was well! Wyatt was still in the garden somewhere." thought Mike. but he must not overdo the thing. J. and he could hear somebody moving inside the room.need to be alarmed. and warn Wyatt. for the dining-room was a long way from the dormitories. Suppose Wain took it into his head to make a tour of the dormitories. He lay there. Wain from coming to the dormitory. on the other hand. breathless. was that he must get into the garden somehow. It seemed a pity to evacuate the position and ring down the curtain on what was. just in time. "would A. In times of excitement one thinks rapidly and clearly. tingling all over with the consciousness of having played a masterly game. It had occurred to him. The handle-rattling was resumed. and he sat up. The enemy was held in check by the locked door. This was good. he opened the window. to date. when suddenly a gruesome idea came to him. If. the kernel of the whole thing. Evidently his . found that the occupant had retired by way of the boys' part of the house. Or the same bright thought might come to Wain himself. He stopped the gramophone. on entering the room. Mike had not read his "Raffles" for nothing. So long as the frontal attack was kept up. the most exciting episode of his life. he might possibly obtain a clue to his identity. though it was not likely. At any moment the noise might bring reinforcements to the besieging force. and he'd locked one door. And at the same time. and reflected.

sir." "A noise?" "Please. "_Me_. sir!" said Mike." "I found the window open. He wore spectacles. I thought I heard a noise. it was not for him to baulk the house-master's innocent pleasure. He spun round at the knock." . thin man. Wain's wish that he should spend the night playing Massa Tambo to his Massa Bones. Wain. Mr. "I think there must have been a burglar in here. of course not. His body was wrapped in a brown dressing-gown. He knocked at the door. looking out. "Thought I heard a noise. a row. He looked about him. sir. sir. sir. What are you doing here?" "Thought I heard a noise. Wain was a tall. please." said Mr. Mr. Mike. Mr." "A noise?" "A row. Jackson. He looked like some weird bird. through which he peered owlishly at Mike. "So I came down. and went in. drew inspiration from it. "Of course not." "You thought you heard----!" The thing seemed to be worrying Mr. could barely check a laugh. His hair was ruffled. Wain was standing at the window. please. with a serious face partially obscured by a grizzled beard. and. and stared in astonishment at Mike's pyjama-clad figure. sir. sir. "Please." If it was Mr.retreat had been made just in time." said Mike. Wain hurriedly. "What are you doing here?" said he at last." said Mike. All this is very unsettling." "Looks like it. "Of course not. He was prepared to continue the snappy dialogue till breakfast time. Wain continued to stare. The house-master's giant brain still appeared to be somewhat clouded. sir. with the air of a bishop accused of contributing to the _Police News_. "Did you turn on the gramophone?" he asked. catching sight of the gramophone. in spite of his anxiety. I don't know why I asked.

"Who on earth's that?" it said. but----" "I heard you crashing through the shrubbery like a hundred elephants. Wain looked at the shrubbery. His knees were covered with mould. Mike stopped. sir." said Mr. "He might be still in the house. Wyatt was round at the back somewhere. On the second of these occasions a low voice spoke from somewhere on his right. There might be a bit of a row on his return." said Wyatt. Twice branches sprang out from nowhere. and the problem was how to get back without being seen from the dining-room window." "Perhaps you are right. "You young ass. "Is that you. Wain. sir." "I shouldn't wonder if he was hiding in the shrubbery. He had evidently been crouching in the bushes on all fours. sir. Fortunately a belt of evergreens ran along the path right up to the house. and Mike saw Wyatt clearly. Jackson. Wain looked out into the garden with an annoyed expression. and hit Mike smartly over the shins. Mike worked his way cautiously through these till he was out of sight. "You promised me that you wouldn't get out. eliciting sharp howls of pain. and it was not easy to find a way through the bushes. rendered speechless by this move just as he had been beginning to recover his faculties. If you _must_ get out at night and chance being sacked. _"Et tu. then tore for the regions at the back." "You think not?" "Wouldn't be such a fool. I know. The moon had gone behind the clouds. Brute!"_ "By Jove! I think I see him." Mr. "Not likely. sir. as if its behaviour in letting burglars be in it struck him as unworthy of a respectable garden. sir." cried Mike." "Yes. He felt that all was well. ruminatively. An inarticulate protest from Mr. I mean. you might . and he was running across the lawn into the shrubbery. as who should say. and vaulted through it on to the lawn. such an ass. but he could always plead overwhelming excitement. Wyatt? I say----" "Jackson!" The moon came out again." Mr. Wain. He ran to the window."He's probably in the garden.

boy? You are laying the seeds of a bad cold. He gibbered slightly when Mike reappeared. The thing was. I will not have it. Did you not hear me call to you?" "Please. "I never saw such a man. I shall certainly report the matter to the headmaster." "That's not a bad idea. Wain was still in the dining-room. as if you'd just woke up and thought you'd heard a row. you see. "But how the dickens did he hear you. so excited. Or." "Please. sir. "Jackson! What do you mean by running about outside the house in this way! I shall punish you very heavily. if you were in the dining-room?" asked Wyatt. You have been seriously injured. "I couldn't find him." "You--_what?_" "The gramophone." said Mr. Latin and English." said Mike. I suppose. but I turned on the gramophone. You will do me two hundred lines." Mike clambered through the window. I will not have boys rushing about the garden in their pyjamas." Mr." "Undoubtedly." he said. You must tread like a policeman. "You're a genius. Exceedingly so" . You will catch an exceedingly bad cold. standing outside with his hands on the sill. All right. "It's miles from his bedroom." "Yes. if you like. Well. you might come down too. drinking in the beauties of the summer night through the open window. It was very wrong of you to search for least have the sense to walk quietly. and I'll go back to the dining-room. I'll get back. You dash along then. come in." "It wasn't that. sir. I will not have it. "You have no business to be excited. till Wain came along. He must have got out of the garden.' Ripping it was. it was rather a rotten thing to do. It started playing 'The Quaint Old Bird." And Mike rapidly explained the situation. "Undoubtedly so. Exceedingly so. may I come in?" "Come in! Of course. Have you no sense." Wyatt doubled up with noiseless laughter. Come in at once. Then it'll be all right if Wain comes and looks into the dorm. Wain. what's the game now? What's the idea?" "I think you'd better nip back along the wall and in through the window. but you don't understand. It is exceedingly impertinent of you. sir.

"I was distinctly under the impression that I had ordered you to retire immediately to your dormitory. James.He was about to say more on the subject when Wyatt strolled into the room. CHAPTER VII IN WHICH MIKE IS DISCUSSED Trevor and Clowes. sir. in much the same way as a motor-car changes from the top speed to its first." "Shall I go out into the garden. "Under no circumstances whatever." said Mike. In these circumstances. The question stung Mr. sir. It is preposterous. In that case I shall be happy to repeat what I said. Wyatt wore the rather dazed expression of one who has been aroused from deep sleep. were sitting in their study a week after the gramophone incident. It is also in my mind that I threatened to punish you with the utmost severity if you did not retire at once. watching some one else work." "But the burglar. "We might catch him. I shall not speak to you again on this subject. you will both be punished with extreme severity. He yawned before he spoke. James--and you. Wain into active eruption once more. sir?" said Wyatt. Clowes was on the window-sill. He loved to sit in this attitude. preparatory to going on the river." he said. "sir" in public. . It is possible that you mistook my meaning. hanging over space. At least Trevor was in the study. Mr. You hear me." he said excitedly. I will not have this lax and reckless behaviour. Wain's manner changed to a slow and stately sarcasm. sir?" asked Wyatt helpfully. Both of you go to bed immediately. the other outside. Wain "father" in private. "I was under the impression. He called Mr. The presence of Mike made this a public occasion. Jackson--you will doubtless see the necessity of complying with my wishes. Inordinately so. in the heavy way almost invariably affected by weak masters in their dealings with the obstreperous. and have a look round. And. if I find you outside your dormitory again to-night." he said. "I thought I heard a noise. getting tea ready. Jackson? James." said Mike. "only he has got away. you understand me? To bed at once. I must be obeyed instantly. "Stay where you are. one leg in the room. "Has there been a burglary?" "Yes. of Donaldson's. I will not have boys running about my garden at night." They made it so.

Trevor." "I withdraw what I said about your sense. I lodged a protest. Trevor. That's a thing you couldn't do." "Marlborough. two excess." "That shows your sense." said Trevor. "I said." "Too busy. Where is he? Your brother. where is he? Among the also-rans. we shall want some more jam to-morrow. packing . Hence. 'Good chap.' I say. we see my brother two terms ago. Trevor was shorter. Clowes was tall. 'Big blue eyes literally bubbling over with fun.and giving his views on life to whoever would listen to them. My people wanted to send him here. I say." "My lad. I have a brother myself. There are stories about me which only my brother knows. Not a bad chap in his way. as our old pal Nero used to remark. and very much in earnest over all that he did. I should think." said Trevor. Have you got any brothers. I'm thinking of Life.' That's what I say.'" "You were right there." "Why not? Shouldn't have minded. "All right. Tigellinus. Better order it to-day. But when it comes to deep thought. 'One Clowes is ample for any public school. you slacker." said Clowes." said Clowes." "See it done.' At least. I have always had a high opinion of your sense. I did not. I mean. "What particular rot were you thinking about just then? What fun it was sitting back and watching other fellows work. Aged fifteen. I often say to people. "Come and help. slicing bread." "My mind at the moment." breathed Trevor. Give him a tea-pot and half a pound of butter to mess about with. and that I didn't want the work of years spoiled by a brother who would think it a rag to tell fellows who respected and admired me----" "Such as who?" "----Anecdotes of a chequered infancy. I suppose it's fun to him. "One for the pot. and looked sad. 'One Clowes is luxury. which he was not. Cheek's what I call it. Consider it unsaid." "Silly ass. you'd have let your people send him here. Did I want them spread about the school? No. On the present occasion he was measuring out tea with a concentration worthy of a general planning a campaign. Trevor?" "One. Like the heroes of the school stories. I said. 'and he's all right. laddie. Couple of years younger than me. "was tensely occupied with the problem of brothers at school. but can't think of Life." "You aren't doing a stroke.' I pointed out that I was just on the verge of becoming rather a blood at Wrykyn. If you'd been a silly ass.

who looks on him as no sportsman. It's all right. considering his cricket. loved by all who know me. and tooling off to Rugby. I've talked to him several times at the nets. which is pretty rotten for him and maddens the kid. which is what I should do myself. They think how nice it will be for all the sons to have been at the same school. But his getting into trouble hasn't anything to do with us. what's at the bottom of this sending young brothers to the same school as elder brothers?" "Elder brother can keep an eye on him. It may be all right after they're left. But the term's hardly started yet. and he's very decent." "What a rotten argument. "Mr. naturally. but. Bread and jam and cake monopolised Clowes's attention for the next quarter of an hour. I suppose. He feels that his reputation hangs on the kid's conduct." "There's nothing wrong with him in that way. with an unstained reputation. In other words. it's the limit. And here am I at Wrykyn. What's wrong with him? Besides. so he broods over him like a policeman." "Well?" "Look here. What's wrong with him? He doesn't stick on side any way. My heart bleeds for Bob. too. People's faces brighten when I throw them a nod. Bob seems to be trying the first way." said Trevor. We were on the subject of brothers at school. come on. It's just the one used by chaps' people. in which case he may find himself any morning in the pleasant position of having to explain to his people exactly why it is that little Willie has just received the boot. revered by all who don't. which he might easily do. the term's only just started. young Jackson came to Wrykyn when all his brothers had been here. and a simple hymn had been sung by those present. however." "What's up? Does he rag?" . so far. You say Jackson's all right. he is. It's the masters you've got to consider. At the end of that period. If I frown----" "Oh." "Jackson's all right." he said. he returned to his subject. take the melancholy case of Jackson Brothers. At present. as I said. Clowes resumed his very interesting remarks. That's where the whole rotten trouble starts. For once in your life you've touched the spot. perhaps. Now. courted by boys." "That's just it." "Young Jackson seems all right. but while they're there. fawned upon by masters. and why he didn't look after him better: or he spends all his spare time shadowing him to see that he doesn't get into trouble. "After the serious business of the meal was concluded.up his little box." "Why?" "Well. Bob Jackson is practically responsible for the kid. what happens? He either lets the kid rip.

But he's working up for a tremendous row one of these days. I don't say young Jackson will land himself like that. anyhow. and which is bound to make rows between them. then!" "What's wrong with Wyatt? He's one of the decentest men in the school."From what I gather from fellows in his form he's got a genius for ragging." "If you must tell anybody. Wyatt wouldn't land him if he could help it. But what's the good of worrying. tell the Gazeka. and. who do you see him about with all the time?" "He's generally with Wyatt when I meet him. Thinks of things that don't occur to anybody else. The odds are. One always sees him about on half-holidays. he resolved to see Bob about it during preparation." "What's the good? Why worry him? Bob couldn't do anything. that he'll be roped into it too. For instance." "I don't know. But there's nothing to prevent Jackson following him on his own." "He never seems to be in extra. It disturbed him all the time that he and Clowes were on the river. Well. unless he leaves before it comes off. And if you're caught at that game." "I know." "The Gazeka is a fool. and does them. if Jackson's so thick with him. every other night. You'd only make him do the policeman business. too. shall we?" * * * * * Trevor's conscientious nature. All I say is that he's just the sort who does." "All front teeth and side." "Yes. He's asking for trouble. Still. walking back to the house. I don't know if he takes Jackson with him. and then all of a sudden he finds himself up to the eyebrows in a record smash. He keeps on wriggling out of small rows till he thinks he can do anything he likes without being dropped on. . Let's stagger out. "Somebody ought to speak to Bob. he's on the spot. it's the boot every time." Trevor looked disturbed. Better leave him alone. made it impossible for him to drop the matter. and has got far more chance of keeping an eye on Jackson than Bob has. I happen to know that Wyatt breaks out of his dorm. which he hasn't time for. It would be a beastly thing for Bob if the kid did get into a really bad row." "That's always the way with that sort of chap. He's head of Wain's. It's nothing to do with us. but he probably wouldn't realise what he was letting the kid in for. I shouldn't think so. Besides. however.

I meant the one here. sitting up. "That reminds me. I forgot to get the evening paper. I hear. "I say. if he lugged your brother into a row by accident. Only he is rather mucking about this term." "Not a bit." "I've done that." "I should. of seeing that he didn't come a mucker than you would. by Jove. though." said Bob." "Oh. I think. being in the same house. you know. What happened?" "I didn't get a paper either. you did? That's all right.He found him in his study. I didn't mean that brother. Mike? What's Mike been up to?" "Nothing as yet. Smashed my other yesterday--against the school house." "I should get blamed." "Oh. Rather rot. I think I'll speak to him again. Did he get his century all right?" "Who?" asked Trevor. It's his last. all right. he seems a great pal of Wyatt's." "Clowes suggested putting Firby-Smith on to him. but." "Don't blame him. W. That's his look out. I spoke to him about it." "Not that there's anything wrong with Wyatt. Why?" "It's this way." he said. J. I say. bewildered. If Wyatt likes to risk it. Smith said he'd speak to him. Clowes and I were talking----" "If Clowes was there he was probably talking." "That's all right then. Well?" "About your brother. Are you busy?" "No. He'd have more chance." . oiling a bat. so I suppose he wants to have a rag. "My brother. Bob. then." "I know. He'd made sixty-three not out against Kent in this morning's paper." "Nor do I." "Oh. that I know of. But it won't do for Mike to go playing the goat too." "I hope he isn't idiot enough to go out at night with Wyatt. "look here. Is that a new bat?" "Got it to-day.

I didn't go to him much this last time. and in an instant the place is in a ferment.s." "Hope so. The next moment the thing has begun. Bob. Mr." "Well. I asked him what he thought of me. and Bob. It is just the same with a row. And. You have a pro. when they meet. You are walking along one seemingly fine day. Better than J." "Sort of infant prodigy. at home. There'll be a big clearing-out of colours at the end of this term." "Saunders. I suppose he'll get his first next year.W. always says that Mike's going to be the star cricketer of the family. he thinks. when suddenly there is a hush. having finished his oiling and washed his hands. though. Henfrey'll be captain. It was so with the great picnic at Wrykyn. whose remarks seemed to contain nothing even remotely resembling sense and coherence. the pro. 'You'll be making a lot of runs some day. and 51. Pretty good for his first term. You were rather in form. I was away a lot. to coach you in the holidays. 18.' There's a subtle difference. "Don't think he's quite up to it yet." He went back to his study. . even. "I thought I heard it go. don't you?" "Yes. is not unlike the beginning of a thunderstorm. isn't there? I shall have Mike cutting me out before I leave school if I'm not careful. in the stress of wrestling with the speech of an apparently delirious Athenian general. W." said Trevor. he allowed the question of Mike's welfare to fade from his mind like a dissolving view. I simply couldn't do a thing then." "Better than at the beginning of the term. I see Mike's playing for the second against the O. and you are standing in a shower-bath.Donaldson's had played a friendly with the school house during the last two days. it's not been chucked away." "Yes. for years. But Mike fairly lived inside the net. But my last three innings have been 33 not out. Some trivial episode occurs. started on his Thucydides. and he said. "I should think you're bound to get your first all right. CHAPTER VIII A ROW WITH THE TOWN The beginning of a big row. I expect. and had beaten them. and there falls on you from space one big drop. one of those rows which turn a school upside down like a volcanic eruption and provide old boys with something to talk about. Nearly all the first are leaving. anyhow.

lasted. At the conclusion of the day's cricket. "P. I didn't do much. I hope you are quite well. They'd stuck me in eighth wicket. I believe he's rather sick about it. only I'd rather it was five bob.P. Wasn't it luck? It's the first time I've played for the second. The banquet. My scores since I wrote last have been 0 in a scratch game (the sun got in my eyes just as I played. but didn't do much.S. The thing had happened after this fashion. and 30 in a form match. I'll find out and tell you next time I write. Jones.W. on the back of the envelope. So I didn't go in. I have been getting on all right at cricket lately. songs. but a fellow called Wyatt (awfully decent chap.The bare outlines of the beginning of this affair are included in a letter which Mike wrote to his father on the Sunday following the Old Wrykynian matches. together with the school choir.--I say. Rather rot." * * * * * The outline of the case was as Mike had stated. all those who had been playing in the four elevens which the school put into the field against the old boys.--Half-a-crown would do. Love to everybody. "P. and some of the chaps were going back to their houses after it when they got into a row with a lot of brickies from the town. This was the letter: "DEAR FATHER. "Rather a rummy thing happened after lock-up. He's Wain's step-son.W.W. and by the time we'd made 140 for 6 it was close of play. I wasn't in it. and half the chaps are acting. lengthened by speeches. the Surrey man. and Spence). could you? I'm rather broke. day. so we stop from lunch to four. as a . They stop the cricket on O. Rather decent. Still. But there were certain details of some importance which had not come to his notice when he sent the letter.--Thanks awfully for your letter.'s second couldn't play because his father was very ill. There was a policeman mixed up in it somehow. I suppose you couldn't send me five bob.S. and there was rather a row. Low down. because I didn't get an innings. 15 for the third against an eleven of masters (without G. Bob played for the first. only I don't quite know where he comes in. these words: "Or a bob would be better than nothing. There's a dinner after the matches on O. and recitations which the reciters imagined to be songs. so I played. and I got bowled). On the Monday they were public property. B. only they bar one another) told me about it. were entertained by the headmaster to supper in the Great Hall. "Your loving son. He was run out after he'd got ten. because they won the toss and made 215. Rot I call it. And I made rather a decent catch at mid-on." And. He was in it all right. matches day because they have a lot of rotten Greek plays and things which take up a frightful time. Yesterday one of the men put down for the second against the O. "MIKE. I may get another shot. 28 not out in the Under Sixteen game. I had to dive for it. Tell Marjory I'll write to her in a day or two.

The school regarded them with a lofty contempt. the first tomato was enough to set matters moving. As the two armies stood facing each other in silence under the dim and mysterious rays of the lamp. brainless. Antiquity had given the custom a sort of sanctity. which they used. there stands on an island in the centre of the road a solitary lamp-post. essentially candid and personal. they found themselves forgetting the headmaster's prejudices and feeling only that these outsiders must be put to the sword as speedily as possible. till about ten o'clock. As a rule. and hit Wyatt on the right ear.rule. the town. and then race back to their houses. as usual. when the revellers were supposed to go back to their houses by the nearest route. for the diners to trudge off to this lamp-post. but it was the unwritten law that only in special circumstances should they proceed to active measures. Wrykyn. Possibly. accordingly. to spend prowling about and indulging in a mild. They seldom proceeded to practical rowdyism and never except with the school. if the town brigade had stuck to a purely verbal form of attack. it suddenly whizzed out from the enemy's ranks. the town. were among the few flaws in the otherwise admirable character of the headmaster of Wrykyn. It was understood that one scragged bargees at one's own risk. and the authorities. and turn in. much as an Oxford man regards the townee. they amused themselves by shouting rude chaff. In the present crisis. as a rule. dance round it for some minutes singing the school song or whatever happened to be the popular song of the moment. A curious dislike for school-and-town rows and most misplaced severity in dealing with the offenders when they took place. in the midst of their festivities. But after an excellent supper and much singing and joviality. was peculiarly rich in "gangs of youths. But tomatoes cannot. It was the custom. When. therefore. and. . that they were being observed and criticised by an equal number of townees. The school was always anxious for a row. The school usually performed it with certain modifications and improvements. show a tendency to dwindle. they seemed to have no work of any kind whatsoever to occupy their time. all might yet have been peace. Words can be overlooked. it was not considered worth it. and Wrykyn. the school. Risks which before supper seemed great. and had been the custom for generations back. But there were others. if they knew--which they must have done--never interfered. the twenty or so Wrykynians who were dancing round the lamp-post were aware. for the honour of the school. and that the criticisms were." Like the vast majority of the inhabitants of the place. About midway between Wrykyn. one's views are apt to alter. This was the official programme. No man of spirit can bear to be pelted with over-ripe tomatoes for any length of time without feeling that if the thing goes on much longer he will be reluctantly compelled to take steps. rural type of hooliganism.

panting." he said. at any rate at first. The greatest expert would lose his science in such circumstances. "My idea of a good after-dinner game is to try and find the chap who threw that. over which the succulent vegetable had spread itself. "I don't know how you fellows are going to pass the evening. now splitting up into little groups. "what's all this?" A stout figure in policeman's uniform was standing surveying them with the aid of a small bull's-eye lantern. it looked unspeakable at night. Barely a dozen remained. Anybody coming?" For the first five minutes it was as even a fight as one could have wished to see. tackled low by Wyatt and Clowes after the fashion of the football-field." he said quietly. Gloomy in the daytime. and there is nothing that adds a force to one's blows and a recklessness to one's style of delivering them more than a sense of injury. except the prisoners. for they suddenly gave the fight up. .There was a moment of suspense. of whose presence you had no idea. but two remained. Most Wrykynians knew how to box to a certain extent. Presently the school noticed that the enemy were vanishing little by little into the darkness which concealed the town. led the school with a vigour that could not be resisted. It raged up and down the road without a pause. while some dear friend of his. He very seldom lost his temper. By the side of the road at this point was a green. It struck Wyatt. when a new voice made itself heard. The scene of the conflict had shifted little by little to a spot some fifty yards from where it had started. hits you at the same time on the back of the head. as an ideal place in which to bestow the captives. The science was on the side of the school. but he did draw the line at bad tomatoes. now in a solid mass. It is impossible to do the latest ducks and hooks taught you by the instructor if your antagonist butts you in the chest. it was no time for science. and then kicks your shins. The idea was welcomed gladly by all. "Let's chuck 'em in there. one side of his face still showing traces of the tomato. Wyatt." it said. They were smarting under a sense of injury. "Now then. * * * * * The school gathered round its prisoners. A move was made towards the pond. and stampeded as one man. whose finer feelings had been entirely blotted out by tomato. Probably what gave the school the victory in the end was the righteousness of their cause. and the procession had halted on the brink. And their lonely condition seemed to be borne in upon these by a simultaneous brain-wave. But. Wyatt took out his handkerchief and wiped his face. To be scientific one must have an opponent who observes at least the more important rules of the ring. depressed looking pond. The leaders were beyond recall.

Constable Butt. a cheer from the launching party. or you'll go typhoid. understanding but dimly. They're a-going to chuck us in the pond. There was a sounding splash as willing hands urged the first of the captives into the depths. You can't do anything here. "Make 'em leave hold of us." "Ho!" said the policeman. you chaps. "We're the Strong Right Arm of Justice. Butt." said Wyatt. Mr. A drowning man will clutch at a straw. sprang forward. scrambled out. Don't swallow more than you can help. A howl from the townee. "You'll the mud getting you nip have the worst of it." "Stop!" From Mr. it's an execution. "You run along on your beat. and vanished. This isn't a lark. a lark's a lark. "All right." said Wyatt in the creamy voice he used when feeling particularly savage. and a splash compared with which . whoever you are. He'll have churned up a bit. Constable Butt represented his one link with dry land." It was here that the regrettable incident occurred. going in second. young gentleman. "This is quite a private matter. Butt. The policeman realised his peril too late. At the same moment the executioners gave their man the final heave. "Oo-er!" From prisoner number one."What's all this?" "It's all right. determined to assert himself even at the eleventh hour. Just as the second prisoner was being launched. He ploughed his way to the bank. and seized the captive by the arm. a yell from the policeman. As he came within reach he attached himself to his tunic with the vigour and concentration of a limpet. and suspecting impudence by instinct. are they? Come now. a frightened squawk from some birds in a neighbouring tree. is it? What's on?" One of the prisoners spoke. "Ho." "I don't want none of your lip. A medley of noises made the peaceful night hideous. Butt. with a change in his voice. A man about to be hurled into an excessively dirty pond will clutch at a stout policeman. I expect there are leeches and things there." said Mr." said Wyatt. you chaps. Carry on. Wyatt turned to the other prisoner." "It's anything but a lark." "Ho!" "Shove 'em in. That's what we are. The prisoner did. but if out quick they may not get on to you. but you ought to know where to stop.

and throws away the match. "Do you know. sir. and all was over.) The tomato which hit Wyatt in the face was the thrown-away match. A man on a prairie lights his pipe. [Illustration: THE DARK WATERS WERE LASHED INTO A MAELSTROM] The school stood in silent consternation. Butt. devastating row has many points of resemblance with a prairie fire." "Threw you in!" "Yes. In dealing with so vast a matter as a row there must be no stint.the first had been as nothing. Butt. sir. (I have already compared a row with a thunderstorm. really!" said the headmaster. The tomato hit Wyatt. "Indeed! This is--dear me! I shall certainly--They threw you in!--Yes. before any one can realise what is happening. with others. with a certain sad relish. Police Constable Alfred Butt. A tomato is a trivial thing (though it is possible that the man whom it hits may not think so). we find Mr. "Really. and. I shall--certainly----" . But for the unerring aim of the town marksman great events would never have happened. calling upon the headmaster. it was the direct cause of epoch-making trouble. Wyatt. went to look for the thrower. It was no occasion for light apologies. but both comparisons may stand. it has become world-famous. The imagination of the force is proverbial. The remnants of the thrower's friends were placed in the pond." said Wyatt. sheets of fire are racing over the country. "I'm not half sure that we hadn't better be moving!" CHAPTER IX BEFORE THE STORM Your real. The flame catches a bunch of dry grass. and "with them. Yes. and the interested neighbours are following their example. they did. but in the present case. "Threw me in. _Plop_!" said Mr." as they say in the courts of law. as he watched the Law shaking the water from itself on the other side of the pond. Butt fierce and revengeful. Nurtured on motor-cars and fed with stop-watches. having prudently changed his clothes. Mr. Butt gave free rein to it. Mr. and then two streaming figures squelched up the further bank. The dark waters were lashed into a maelstrom. Following the chain of events. The headmaster was grave and sympathetic. sir.

' And. according to discretion. again with the confidential air. They shall be punished. They all 'ad their caps on their heads. sir! Mrs. sir!" said the policeman. constable. "I was on my beat. with a vividness of imagery both surprising and gratifying." "I have never heard of such a thing." The headmaster of Wrykyn was not a motorist. I says to myself." "Yes--Thank you. Butt promptly. "and it _was_ a frakkus!" "And these boys actually threw you into the pond?" "_Plop_." he added. beginning to suspect something. I will look into the matter at once. "I _was_ wet. Butt. right from the beginning. Wringin' wet. She says to me.' I says. he accepted Constable Butt's report almost as it stood. He . too. sir. 'Blow me if I don't think it's a frakkus. "How many boys were there?" he asked." The headmaster's frown deepened. sir. sir. Had he been a motorist. 'Why. with the air of one confiding a secret. sir." "Good-night." "H'm--Well. The headmaster tapped restlessly on the floor with his foot. As it was. Good-night." "Yes. sir. and I thought I heard a disturbance. "Two hundred!" "It was dark. and threw you into the water----" "_Splish_." "Yes. They actually seized you. Mr.Encouraged by this appreciative reception of his story. "Couple of 'undred." concluded Mr." said Mr. and I couldn't see not to say properly. sir. he would have known that statements by the police in the matter of figures must be divided by any number from two to ten. Butt is drying my uniform at home at this very moment as we sit talking here.' I says. sir.' And. but if you ask me my frank and private opinion I should say couple of 'undred. 'a frakkus. sir. whatever _'ave_ you been a-doing? You're all wet. "And you are certain that your assailants were boys from the school?" "Sure as I am that I'm sitting here. 'Wot's this all about. Owing to this disadvantage he made a mistake. sir. Lots of them all gathered together. I can hardly believe that it is possible. Butt started it again. and fighting." "Ye-e-s--H'm--Yes--Most severely. I wonder?' I says. ''Allo.

which at one time had looked like being fatal. about a week before the pond episode. Had he known how few were the numbers of those responsible for the cold in the head which subsequently attacked Constable Butt. always ready to stop work. He gave out a notice to that effect on the Monday. and finally become a mere vague memory. And this made all the difference to his method of dealing with the affair. but Eton and Harrow had set the example. A public school has no Hyde Park. blank. As it was. and those who had had nothing to do with it had been much amused. and in private at that. become public property. Only two days before the O. The thrilling feeling that something is going to happen is the salt of life.. It was one vast. a certain member of the Royal Family had recovered from a dangerous illness. he got the impression that the school. expend itself in words. everybody's comment on the situation came to that. The step which the headmaster decided to take by way of avenging Mr. which was followed throughout the kingdom.'s matches the headmaster had given out a notice in the hall that the following Friday would be a whole holiday. It happened that. They were not malicious. It could not understand it. but he accepted the statement in so far as it indicated that the thing had been the work of a considerable section of the school. it is certain--that. Butt's wrongs was to stop this holiday. was culpable. The pond affair had. When condensed. he would have asked for their names. * * * * * The school's attitude can be summed up in three words. thrilled with the pleasant excitement of those who see trouble approaching and themselves looking on from a comfortable distance without risk or uneasiness. . and not of only one or two individuals. and Wrykyn had come into line with the rest. The blow had fallen." they had said. but for one malcontent. had approved of the announcement exceedingly. the school's indignation would have been allowed to simmer down in the usual way.. of course. and the school. And here they were. and he proceeded to punish the school as a whole. however. I say!" Everybody was saying it. though not always in those words. astounded "Here. Even the consolation of getting on to platforms and shouting at itself is denied to it. or nearly always. They did not want to see their friends in difficulties. "There'll be a frightful row about it. There is every probability--in fact. The school was thunderstruck. No official holiday had been given to the schools in honour of the recovery. as a whole.. and an extra lesson would have settled the entire matter. * * * * * There is something rather pathetic in the indignation of a school.W. right in it after all. and crushed guilty and innocent alike. But there is no denying that a row does break the monotony of a school term.thought that he might possibly have been mistaken as to the exact numbers of those concerned in his immersion. It must always.

and. guiltily conscious that he had been frothing. But at heart he had an enormous respect for authority." . A conversation which he had with Neville-Smith. It would be an absorbing task for a psychologist to trace the various stages by which an impossibility was changed into a reality. "You're what?" "I simply sha'n't go to school. Leaders of men are rare." Neville-Smith stopped and stared. Neville-Smith was thoroughly representative of the average Wrykynian. It requires genius to sway a school. a daring sort of person. Before he came to Wyatt. will appreciate the magnitude of his feat. a day-boy. I'm not going to. He expressed his opinion of the headmaster freely and in well-chosen words. Wyatt acted on him like some drug. Leaders of boys are almost unknown. * * * * * Any one who knows the public schools." "You're rotting. He had been responsible for the starting of the matter. "What are you going to do?" asked Wyatt. He could play his part in any minor "rag" which interested him. His popularity and reputation for lawlessness helped him. "I don't suppose one can actually _do_ anything. and that it was a beastly shame. "What do you mean?" "Why don't you take the holiday?" "What? Not turn up on Friday!" "Yes. The notice concerning the holiday had only been given out that morning. and scenting sarcasm. their ironbound conservatism. and he proceeded now to carry it on till it blazed up into the biggest thing of its kind ever known at Wrykyn--the Great Picnic. even though he may not approve of it. that it was all rot. he would not have dreamed of proceeding beyond words in his revolt. intense respect for order and authority. as a whole. is typical of the way in which he forced his point of view on the school." said Neville-Smith a little awkwardly. and he was full of it. and probably considered himself. He said it was a swindle. He added that something ought to be done about it. Neville-Smith came upon Wyatt on his way to the nets. "Well." "Why not?" said Wyatt. on the whole. Wyatt's coolness and matter-of-fact determination were his chief weapons.The malcontent was Wyatt." "All right. Wyatt was unmoved.

Are you just going to cut off. We should be forty or fifty strong to start with. wouldn't it be?" "Yes. I should be glad of a little company. nor could they! I say!" They walked on." said Neville-Smith after a pause." "That would be a start. But only because I shall be the only one to do it. There were mysterious whisperings and gigglings. Wyatt whistling. what a score. I say. If the whole school took Friday off." "Not bad." "I say. but." * * * * * The school turned in on the Thursday night in a restless. "Shall I ask some of them?" said Neville-Smith." "I'll speak to the chaps to-night. excited way. ragging barred." "I suppose so. Groups kept forming in corners apart. "It would be a bit of a rag." "All right. "I say." "By Jove. wouldn't it? I could get a couple of dozen from Wain's. "Tell them that I shall be going anyhow." said Wyatt. CHAPTER X THE GREAT PICNIC . An air of expectancy permeated each of the houses." "Do you think the chaps would do it?" "If they understood they wouldn't be alone." Another pause. though the holiday's been stopped?" "That's the idea. "Do. Neville-Smith's mind in a whirl. They couldn't sack the whole school. they couldn't do much. to disperse casually and innocently on the approach of some person in authority. and let you know."No." "You'll get sacked." "I could get quite a lot. I believe.

And yet--where was everybody? Time only deepened the mystery. The majority of these lived in the town. though unable to interfere. Wrykyn was a boarding-school for the most part. A few. but it was not a leading characteristic of the school." "So should I.W. A strangely desolate feeling was in the air at nine o'clock on the Friday morning.'s day row. Sit in the grounds of a public school any afternoon in the summer holidays. and walked to school. looked askance when compelled by the warning toot of the horn to skip from road to pavement. A wave of reform could scarcely have swept through the houses during the night. What could it mean? It was an occasion on which sane people wonder if their brains are not playing them some unaccountable trick. I should have got up an hour later. but it had its leaven of day-boys. After call-over the forms proceeded to the Great Hall for prayers. of the Lower Fifth. I say. trying to get in in time to answer their names. however. It seemed curious to these cyclists that there should be nobody about. At that hour there was a call-over in each of the form-rooms. rather to the scandal of the authorities." "Perhaps he sent another notice round the houses late last night. were empty. the only other occupant of the form-room." said Willoughby. didn't he?" "Just what I was going to ask you. A form-master has the strongest objection to being made to skip like a young ram by a boy to whom he has only the day before given a hundred lines for shuffling his feet in form. who. Where _is_ everybody?" "They can't _all_ be late. and you will get exactly the same sensation of being alone in the world as came to the dozen or so day-boys who bicycled through the gates that morning. It was curious that there should be nobody about to-day. you might see the gravel in front of the buildings freely dotted with sprinters. The form-rooms. came on bicycles. "It's jolly rum. "the old man _did_ stop the holiday to-day. Why. and at three minutes to nine. Some one might have let us know. One plutocrat did the journey in a motor-car. I can't make it out. like the gravel. whose homes were farther away. it's just striking. The cyclists looked at one another in astonishment. Punctuality is the politeness of princes." "Somebody would have turned up by now." "So do I. saying it was on again all right.Morning school at Wrykyn started at nine o'clock. to Brown. as a general rule." said Brown. "I say." . I distinctly remember him giving it out in hall that it was going to be stopped because of the O. what a swindle if he did.

and lived by himself in rooms in the town." Mr." "We were just wondering." "Do you mean to say that you have seen _nobody_. here _is_ somebody. and the notice was not brought to me. I shall go to the Common Room and make inquiries. A brisk conversation was going on. Not a single one. And they were all very puzzled." "I've heard nothing about it. as you say. Seeing the obvious void. Spence. I should have received some sort of intimation if it had been. sir. Spence pondered. Spence told himself. Perhaps. sir. Spence?" "You in the same condition as we are. It was just conceivable that they might have forgotten to tell him of the change in the arrangements. Spence seated himself on the table." "This is extraordinary. Brown?" "Only about a dozen fellows. ." "None of the boarders?" "No. there is a holiday to-day. "Well. sir." he said. Several voices hailed Mr. "Hullo. sir. Are you alone in the world too?" "Any of your boys turned up. as he walked to the Common Room." It was the master of the Lower Fifth. that this might be a possible solution of the difficulty. we don't know. "Willoughby. He was not a house-master."Hullo. The usual lot who come on bikes. sir. Are you the only two here? Where is everybody?" "Please. as was his habit." Mr. if the holiday had been put on again." "Yes. Spence as he entered. Brown. he stopped in his stride. and looked puzzled. sir. "you two fellows had better go along up to Hall. We were just wondering. But in the Common Room the same perplexity reigned." "Have you seen nobody?" "No. and a few more were standing. sir. after all. Spence. Spence?" Mr. Half a dozen masters were seated round the room. Mr. He walked briskly into the room.

"Haven't any of your fellows turned up, either?" he said. "When I accepted the honourable post of Lower Fourth master in this abode of sin," said Mr. Seymour, "it was on the distinct understanding that there was going to be a Lower Fourth. Yet I go into my form-room this morning, and what do I find? Simply Emptiness, and Pickersgill II. whistling 'The Church Parade,' all flat. I consider I have been hardly treated." "I have no complaint to make against Brown and Willoughby, as individuals," said Mr. Spence; "but, considered as a form, I call them short measure." "I confess that I am entirely at a loss," said Mr. Shields precisely. "I have never been confronted with a situation like this since I became a schoolmaster." "It is most mysterious," agreed Mr. Wain, plucking at his beard. "Exceedingly so." The younger masters, notably Mr. Spence and Mr. Seymour, had begun to look on the thing as a huge jest. "We had better teach ourselves," said Mr. Seymour. "Spence, do a hundred lines for laughing in form." The door burst open. "Hullo, here's another scholastic Little Bo-Peep," said Mr. Seymour. "Well, Appleby, have you lost your sheep, too?" "You don't mean to tell me----" began Mr. Appleby. "I do," said Mr. Seymour. "Here we are, fifteen of us, all good men and true, graduates of our Universities, and, as far as I can see, if we divide up the boys who have come to school this morning on fair share-and-share-alike lines, it will work out at about two-thirds of a boy each. Spence, will you take a third of Pickersgill II.?" "I want none of your charity," said Mr. Spence loftily. "You don't seem to realise that I'm the best off of you all. I've got two in my form. It's no good offering me your Pickersgills. I simply haven't room for them." "What does it all mean?" exclaimed Mr. Appleby. "If you ask me," said Mr. Seymour, "I should say that it meant that the school, holding the sensible view that first thoughts are best, have ignored the head's change of mind, and are taking their holiday as per original programme." "They surely cannot----!" "Well, where are they then?" "Do you seriously mean that the entire school has--has _rebelled_?" "'Nay, sire,'" quoted Mr. Spence, "'a revolution!'"

"I never heard of such a thing!" "We're making history," said Mr. Seymour. "It will be rather interesting," said Mr. Spence, "to see how the head will deal with a situation like this. One can rely on him to do the statesman-like thing, but I'm bound to say I shouldn't care to be in his place. It seems to me these boys hold all the cards. You can't expel a whole school. There's safety in numbers. The thing is colossal." "It is deplorable," said Mr. Wain, with austerity. "Exceedingly so." "I try to think so," said Mr. Spence, "but it's a struggle. There's a Napoleonic touch about the business that appeals to one. Disorder on a small scale is bad, but this is immense. I've never heard of anything like it at any public school. When I was at Winchester, my last year there, there was pretty nearly a revolution because the captain of cricket was expelled on the eve of the Eton match. I remember making inflammatory speeches myself on that occasion. But we stopped on the right side of the line. We were satisfied with growling. But this----!" Mr. Seymour got up. "It's an ill wind," he said. "With any luck we ought to get the day off, and it's ideal weather for a holiday. The head can hardly ask us to sit indoors, teaching nobody. If I have to stew in my form-room all day, instructing Pickersgill II., I shall make things exceedingly sultry for that youth. He will wish that the Pickersgill progeny had stopped short at his elder brother. He will not value life. In the meantime, as it's already ten past, hadn't we better be going up to Hall to see what the orders of the day _are_?" "Look at Shields," said Mr. Spence. "He might be posing for a statue to be called 'Despair!' He reminds me of Macduff. _Macbeth_, Act iv., somewhere near the end. 'What, all my pretty chickens, at one fell swoop?' That's what Shields is saying to himself." "It's all very well to make a joke of it, Spence," said Mr. Shields querulously, "but it is most disturbing. Most." "Exceedingly," agreed Mr. Wain. The bereaved company of masters walked on up the stairs that led to the Great Hall.

CHAPTER XI THE CONCLUSION OF THE PICNIC If the form-rooms had been lonely, the Great Hall was doubly, trebly, so. It was a vast room, stretching from side to side of the middle block, and its ceiling soared up into a distant dome. At one end was a dais and an organ, and at intervals down the room stood long tables. The panels were covered with the names of Wrykynians who had won

scholarships at Oxford and Cambridge, and of Old Wrykynians who had taken first in Mods or Greats, or achieved any other recognised success, such as a place in the Indian Civil Service list. A silent testimony, these panels, to the work the school had done in the world. Nobody knew exactly how many the Hall could hold, when packed to its fullest capacity. The six hundred odd boys at the school seemed to leave large gaps unfilled. This morning there was a mere handful, and the place looked worse than empty. The Sixth Form were there, and the school prefects. The Great Picnic had not affected their numbers. The Sixth stood by their table in a solid group. The other tables were occupied by ones and twos. A buzz of conversation was going on, which did not cease when the masters filed into the room and took their places. Every one realised by this time that the biggest row in Wrykyn history was well under way; and the thing had to be discussed. In the Masters' library Mr. Wain and Mr. Shields, the spokesmen of the Common Room, were breaking the news to the headmaster. The headmaster was a man who rarely betrayed emotion in his public capacity. He heard Mr. Shields's rambling remarks, punctuated by Mr. Wain's "Exceedinglys," to an end. Then he gathered up his cap and gown. "You say that the whole school is absent?" he remarked quietly. Mr. Shields, in a long-winded flow of words, replied that that was what he did say. "Ah!" said the headmaster. There was a silence. "'M!" said the headmaster. There was another silence. "Ye--e--s!" said the headmaster. He then led the way into the Hall. Conversation ceased abruptly as he entered. The school, like an audience at a theatre when the hero has just appeared on the stage, felt that the serious interest of the drama had begun. There was a dead silence at every table as he strode up the room and on to the dais. There was something Titanic in his calmness. Every eye was on his face as he passed up the Hall, but not a sign of perturbation could the school read. To judge from his expression, he might have been unaware of the emptiness around him. The master who looked after the music of the school, and incidentally accompanied the hymn with which prayers at Wrykyn opened, was waiting, puzzled, at the foot of the dais. It seemed improbable that things would go on as usual, and he did not know whether he was expected to

be at the organ, or not. The headmaster's placid face reassured him. He went to his post. The hymn began. It was a long hymn, and one which the school liked for its swing and noise. As a rule, when it was sung, the Hall re-echoed. To-day, the thin sound of the voices had quite an uncanny effect. The organ boomed through the deserted room. The school, or the remnants of it, waited impatiently while the prefect whose turn it was to read stammered nervously through the lesson. They were anxious to get on to what the Head was going to say at the end of prayers. At last it was over. The school waited, all ears. The headmaster bent down from the dais and called to Firby-Smith, who was standing in his place with the Sixth. The Gazeka, blushing warmly, stepped forward. "Bring me a school list, Firby-Smith," said the headmaster. The Gazeka was wearing a pair of very squeaky boots that morning. They sounded deafening as he walked out of the room. The school waited. Presently a distant squeaking was heard, and Firby-Smith returned, bearing a large sheet of paper. The headmaster thanked him, and spread it out on the reading-desk. Then, calmly, as if it were an occurrence of every day, he began to call the roll. "Abney." No answer. "Adams." No answer. "Allenby." "Here, sir," from a table at the end of the room. Allenby was a prefect, in the Science Sixth. The headmaster made a mark against his name with a pencil. "Arkwright." No answer. He began to call the names more rapidly. "Arlington. Arthur. Ashe. Aston." "Here, sir," in a shrill treble from the rider in motorcars. The headmaster made another tick.

The list came to an end after what seemed to the school an unconscionable time, and he rolled up the paper again, and stepped to the edge of the dais. "All boys not in the Sixth Form," he said, "will go to their form-rooms and get their books and writing-materials, and return to the Hall." ("Good work," murmured Mr. Seymour to himself. "Looks as if we should get that holiday after all.") "The Sixth Form will go to their form-room as usual. I should like to speak to the masters for a moment." He nodded dismissal to the school. The masters collected on the daÃ‾s. "I find that I shall not require your services to-day," said the headmaster. "If you will kindly set the boys in your forms some work that will keep them occupied, I will look after them here. It is a lovely day," he added, with a smile, "and I am sure you will all enjoy yourselves a great deal more in the open air." "That," said Mr. Seymour to Mr. Spence, as they went downstairs, "is what I call a genuine sportsman." "My opinion neatly expressed," said Mr. Spence. "Come on the river. Or shall we put up a net, and have a knock?" "River, I think. Meet you at the boat-house." "All right. Don't be long." "If every day were run on these lines, school-mastering wouldn't be such a bad profession. I wonder if one could persuade one's form to run amuck as a regular thing." "Pity one can't. It seems to me the ideal state of things. Ensures the greatest happiness of the greatest number." "I say! Suppose the school has gone up the river, too, and we meet them! What shall we do?" "Thank them," said Mr. Spence, "most kindly. They've done us well." The school had not gone up the river. They had marched in a solid body, with the school band at their head playing Sousa, in the direction of Worfield, a market town of some importance, distant about five miles. Of what they did and what the natives thought of it all, no very distinct records remain. The thing is a tradition on the countryside now, an event colossal and heroic, to be talked about in the tap-room of the village inn during the long winter evenings. The papers got hold of it, but were curiously misled as to the nature of the demonstration. This was the fault of the reporter on the staff of the _Worfield Intelligencer and Farmers' Guide_, who saw in the thing a legitimate "march-out," and, questioning a straggler as to the reason for the expedition and gathering foggily that the restoration to health of the Eminent Person was at the bottom of it, said so in

" That was the supreme moment in mine host's life. "I want lunch for five hundred and fifty. or the confusion in the narrow streets would have been hopeless. Other inns were called upon for help. On ordinary days Worfield was more or less deserted. it melted away little by little. who seemed to be a warm personal friend of his. It was his big subject of conversation ever afterwards.his paper. Wyatt. those on the grounds heard the strains of the school band and a murmur of many voices. Wyatt's genius did not stop short at organising the march. As the army drew near to the school. "Yes. . They looked weary but cheerful. And the army lunched sumptuously. and apples. and headed it "Loyal Schoolboys. The prompt and decisive way in which rioters were dealt with during the earlier stages of the business proved a wholesome lesson to others who would have wished to have gone and done likewise. net practice was just coming to an end when. jam. sir?" inquired the landlord politely. at about the time when Retribution had got seriously to work." said Wyatt. "Anything I can do for you. And there was the usual conversation between "a rosy-cheeked lad of some sixteen summers" and "our representative. please. At the school gates only a handful were left. walked into the "Grasshopper and Ant. A spirit of martial law reigned over the Great Picnic. In addition. * * * * * At the school. fortunately. the _Daily Mail_ reprinted the account. They descended on the place like an army of locusts. And towards the end of the day fatigue kept the rowdy-minded quiet." The writer said that great credit was due to the headmaster of Wrykyn for his ingenuity in devising and organising so novel a thanksgiving celebration. The remarkable thing about the Great Picnic was its orderliness. In the early afternoon they rested. It was not a market-day. Considering that five hundred and fifty boys were ranging the country in a compact mass. It is astonishing that the resources of the little town were equal to satisfying the needs of the picnickers." the leading inn of the town. he arranged a system of officers which effectually controlled the animal spirits of the rank and file. the march home was started. At Worfield the expedition lunched. as the garrison of Lucknow heard the first skirl of the pipes of the relieving force. with comments and elaborations. And two days later. He always told that as his best story. there was wonderfully little damage done to property. and up the Wrykyn road came marching the vanguard of the column. the staff of the "Grasshopper and Ant" bustled about." in which the rosy-cheeked one spoke most kindly of the head-master. "You could ha' knocked me down with a feather!" The first shock over. as generalissimo of the expedition. Private citizens rallied round with bread. and he always ended with the words. Presently the sounds grew more distinct. each house claiming its representatives. faintly. and as evening began to fall. singing the school song.

"There has been an outbreak of chicken-pox in the town." he said. and cleared his throat as a preliminary to making an announcement. "I say. a stir of excitement when he came to the edge of the dais. thought the school. There were no impassioned addresses from the dais. Nor did he say that he should never have thought it of them." He then gave the nod of dismissal. It hasn't started yet. "My dear chap." CHAPTER XII MIKE GETS HIS CHANCE The headmaster was quite bland and business-like about it all. The less astute of the picnickers. overtaking Wyatt in the cloisters. Now for it. unmindful of the homely proverb about hallooing before leaving the wood. But it came all . There was. isn't it! He's funked it. were openly exulting. To lie low is always a shrewd piece of tactics. baffled by the magnitude of the thing. What do you mean? Why?" "Well. "this is all right." "What do you mean? Why didn't he say anything about it in Hall. "been to the nets? I wonder if there's time for a ginger-beer before the shop shuts. "it's not over yet by a long chalk. speechless. they didn't send in the bill right away.Bob Jackson. All streets except the High Street will in consequence be out of bounds till further notice. The school streamed downstairs. and gazed at him. I thought he would." he chuckled." said Wyatt. It seemed plain to them that the headmaster. marvelling. "Hullo. He did not tell the school that it ought to be ashamed of itself. walking back to Donaldson's. Finds the job too big to tackle. then?" "Why should he? Have you ever had tick at a shop?" "Of course I have. This was the announcement. and there seemed no reason why the Head should not have decided on it in the present instance. Prayers on the Saturday morning were marked by no unusual features. indeed." Wyatt was damping. had resolved to pursue the safe course of ignoring it altogether. Neville-Smith was among these premature rejoicers. met Wyatt at the gate.

They surged round it. The headmaster had acted. To-day. You wait." Wyatt was right. He lowers all records." "Sting?" "Should think it did. I notice. It was a comprehensive document. "Bates must have got writer's cramp." said Clowes. "I don't know what you call getting off. "Seen the 'extra' list?" he remarked. "None of the kids are in it. the school sergeant. You wouldn't have if you'd been me. rushing to the shop for its midday bun. who was walking a little stiffly." he said." Wyatt roared with laughter." . "What!" "Yes. Rather a good thing. Everybody below the Upper Fourth. Between ten and eleven on Wednesdays and Saturdays old Bates. I never saw such a man. as they went back to the house. used to copy out the names of those who were in extra lesson." "Thanks. He was quite fresh. It left out little. then?" "Rather. * * * * * Wyatt met Mike after school. Buns were forgotten. And "the following boys" numbered four hundred. What was it? Then the meaning of the notice flashed upon them.right. It seems to me you're the chaps who got off." "Do you think he's going to do something. This bloated document was the extra lesson list." said Mike. The school inspected the list during the quarter to eleven interval. "he is an old sportsman. I'm glad you got off." it began. swollen with names as a stream swells with rain." "How do you mean?" "We got tanned." said Mike ruefully. the school was aware of a vast sheet of paper where usually there was but a small one." "Glad you think it funny. "The following boys will go in to extra lesson this afternoon and next Wednesday. and post them outside the school shop. Only the bigger fellows. I was one of the first to get it. as he read the huge scroll. "By Gad.

Adams." "You don't think there's any chance of it. isn't it? You won't be able to play!" "No. and I'll carry on the good work in the evening. who seldom allowed himself to be ruffled. really. He had his day-dreams." "Oh." continued Wyatt." said Mike indignantly." "I'm not breaking down. who seemed to be sufficiently in earnest. what rot!" "It is. Me. So you field like a demon this afternoon. Probably Druce. especially as he's a bowler himself." "You needn't rot." said Mike. Burgess is simply mad on fielding." "Well. "I don't see why not? Buck up in the scratch game this afternoon. "I'm not rotting. whatever his batting was like. "They'll put a bowler in instead of me. and they always took the form of playing for the first eleven (and. so you're all right. rather. Don't break down." "I should be awfully sick. making a century in record time)." said Mike uncomfortably." said Mike.C." "I say. Still. you're better off than I am. it isn't you. You'll probably get my place in the team. incidentally." "I say. captain of Wrykyn cricket. rather. match.C. was a genial giant. if it were me. He'd shove a man into the team like a shot. "it's awfully decent of you. "Or. I thought you weren't. But there'll be several vacancies. nobody can say I didn't ask for it. If one goes out of one's way to beg and beseech the Old Man to put one in extra. Let's see. do you?" said Mike awkwardly." "An extra's nothing much. "I'll suggest it to Burgess to-night. "All right. buck up. that's the lot. like everybody else. Wyatt. Fielding especially. That's next Wednesday. To have to listen while the subject was talked about lightly made him hot and prickly all over. overcome."Well. I should think they'd give you a chance. "It is when it happens to come on the same day as the M. I don't blame him either. The present was one of the rare . Any more? No. by Jove! I forgot." Mike smiled dutifully at what he supposed to be a humorous sally." said Wyatt seriously. Ashe. it would be a little rough on him to curse him when he does it." * * * * * Billy Burgess. if his fielding was something extra special. one of the places. Anyhow.

What does size matter? Cricket isn't footer. Why the deuce fellows can't hold catches when ." grumbled Burgess. shortly before lock-up." said Wyatt." Wyatt waited patiently till he had retrieved it. I'd like to tie you and Ashe and that blackguard Adams up in a big sack.C. And I'd jump on the sack first. on Wednesday?" said Wyatt. What were you saying?" "Why not play young Jackson for the first?" "Too small. and a better field. "What? Are you sitting on my left shoe?" "No.C. Dropped a sitter off me to-day. like the soldier in Shakespeare. jumping at his opportunity." "You haven't got a mind. "You've got a cheap brown paper substitute. Besides." Wyatt turned the conversation tactfully." "Why don't you play him against the M. Then he returned to the attack. "Eight. What do you mean by letting the team down like this? I know you were at the bottom of it all." "You----!" "William! William!" "If it wasn't illegal. in the excitement of the moment the M." He struggled into his shirt--he was changing after a bath--and his face popped wrathfully out at the other end. Dash. "How many wickets did you get to-day?" he asked.. "Dear old Billy!" said Wyatt. Young Jackson caught a hot one off me at third man." "Rot. "He's as good a bat as his brother.C. I've dropped my stud. "The fact is." "Old Bob can't field for toffee. match went clean out of my mind. That kid's good. "I'm awfully sorry. For a hundred and three." "Right ho!. full of strange oaths.occasions on which he permitted himself that luxury. There it is in the corner. I will say that for him." "I suppose he is. give me a kiss.. as Wyatt appeared. Wyatt found him in his study. he isn't small. He's as tall as I am. I was on the spot. and let's be friends. "You rotter! You rotter! You _worm_!" he observed crisply. That's your trouble. "Come on. Bill. and drop you into the river.C.

then. and a school team usually bats 25 per cent." said Wyatt." "You play him. He read it.C.C.C. and his heart missed a beat. That kid's a genius at cricket. at Lord's. The only signs of life are a few pedestrians on the road beyond the railings and one or two blazer and flannel-clad forms in the pavilion. and kicked the wall as a vent for his feelings. Give him a shot. and you'll think it a favour if he nods to you in the pav.they drop slowly into their mouths I'm hanged if I can see. Jackson his colours at Wrykyn? In a few years he'll be playing for England. CHAPTER XIII THE M. The rest of the school have gone in after the interval at eleven o'clock. I shall be locked out. "I'll think it over." said Burgess." Burgess hesitated. When you're a white-haired old man you'll go doddering about. was a name that leaped from the paper at him. So long. You would like little Wyatt Burgess and the other little Burgesses to respect you in your old age." said Wyatt. Burgess. It'll be the only thing they'll respect you for. "You rotter. "Just give him a trial. "With you three lunatics out of the team we can't afford to try many experiments. Everything seems hushed and expectant. dream-like atmosphere about the opening stages of a first eleven match. His own name. Jackson." "Good." Wyatt got up. wouldn't you? Very well." he said. there is a curious. better . and pat half-volleys back to the bowler! Do you realise that your only chance of being known to Posterity is as the man who gave M. And don't forget what I said about the grandchildren. and you are alone on the grounds with a cricket-bag." he said. MATCH If the day happens to be fine. just above the W. gassing to your grandchildren. The bell went ages ago." Wyatt stopped for breath. The sense of isolation is trying to the nerves. For. Better stick to the men at the top of the second. Wyatt." * * * * * On the Monday morning Mike passed the notice-board just as Burgess turned away from pinning up the list of the team to play the M. "Can't you _see_ when you've got a good man? Here's this kid waiting for you ready made with a style like Trumper's. He's going to be better than any of his brothers. how you 'discovered' M.C. Frightful gift of the gab you've got. "You know. poor kids. chaps who play forward at everything. B. "Think it over. it's a bit risky. bottom but one. "All right. even Joe. and you rave about top men in the second.

I always said it." "Well." "Well. you know. Master Mike. saw him." "Of course. to wait. and walked him off in the direction of a man in a Zingari blazer who was bowling slows to another of the . Only wants the strength. Hullo.C. where he had changed. feeling quite hollow. Saunders!" cried Mike. He could almost have cried with pure fright. and were just going to begin a little quiet net-practice. and quite suddenly. "Why. "Mike! You aren't playing!" "Yes. "Got all the strokes." he said. so that they could walk over together. He felt as cheerful as if he and Saunders had met in the meadow at home. Mike walked across from Wain's. here he is. as Saunders had done. sir. the lost. "Why. I'm only playing as a sub. when the strangeness has worn off. and I got one of the places. "Joe! Has he really? How ripping! Hullo. Saunders slapped his leg in a sort of ecstasy. Three chaps are in extra. team came down the steps." he chuckled. Master Mike!" The professional beamed." said Saunders. Master Joe. hopeless feeling left Mike. and stopped dead. isn't he.C. He had almost reached the pavilion when one of the M. "Isn't it ripping. "By Jove." "Wish I could!" "Master Joe's come down with the Club. and then they'll have to put you in. sir. Master Mike. I'm hanged! Young marvel. but conversation was the last thing Mike desired at that moment.." Joe took Mike by the shoulder." said Saunders. He stopped short. "Wasn't I right? I used to say to myself it 'ud be a pretty good school team that 'ud leave you out.after lunch. "Didn't I always say it. Saunders?" "He is. you'll make a hundred to-day. Bob had shouted after him from a window as he passed Donaldson's. you don't mean to say you're playing for the school already?" Mike nodded happily. Joe?" The greatest of all the Jacksons was descending the pavilion steps with the gravity befitting an All England batsman.

Saunders is our only bowler. It seemed for one instant as if the move had been a success. almost held it a second time. The M. as usual. getting in front of his wicket. The wicket was hard and true. On the other hand. and Burgess tried a change of bowling. And. was not a side to which he would have preferred to give away an advantage. but Bob fumbled it. was feeling just the same. conscious of being an uncertain field. and Mike's been brought up on Saunders. Twenty became forty with disturbing swiftness. exhibiting Mike. and was l. "What do you think of this?" said Joe.C. Burgess's yorker was nearly too much for the latter in the first over. "Do you think I don't know the elementary duties of a captain?" * * * * * The school went out to field with mixed feelings. "Probably too proud to own the relationship.M. not to mention the other first-class men." "Isn't there any end to you Jacksons?" demanded the wicket-keeper in an aggrieved tone. dropped it.w. At twenty. Joe began to open his shoulders.C. Mike recognised him with awe as one of the three best amateur wicket-keepers in the country. "I never saw such a family. and finally let it fall miserably to the ground. The beginning of the game was quiet. still taking risks. The Authentic. "Aged ten last birthday. but he is. Mike?" "Brother of yours?" asked the wicket-keeper. and the pair gradually settled down. opened with Joe and a man in an Oxford Authentic cap. and hoping that nothing would come his way." "This is our star. and snicked it straight into Bob's hands at second slip. You wait till he gets at us to-day.C. tried to late-cut a rising ball. Mike was feeling that by no possibility could he hold the simplest catch. It was a moment too painful for words. relief came. who grinned bashfully. for Joe.b. which would have made it pleasant to be going in first. but he contrived to chop it away. There was a sickening inevitableness in the way in which every ball was played with the very centre of the bat. For himself. And the next ball upset the newcomer's leg stump. missed it. sorry as a captain. and playing for the school. It was the easiest of slip-catches. Burgess was glad as a private individual. just when things seemed most hopeless. You'd better win the toss if you want a chance of getting a knock and lifting your average out of the minuses.C. he realised that a side with Joe Jackson on it." "I _have_ won the toss. . team. As a captain. they would feel decidedly better and fitter for centuries after the game had been in progress an hour or so. You are only ten. He rolled the ball back to the bowler in silence. Bob. to pull one of the simplest long-hops ever seen on a cricket field. aren't you." said the other with dignity. the sooner he got hold of the ball and began to bowl the better he liked it. One of those weary periods followed when the batsman's defence seems to the fieldsmen absolutely impregnable.

A hundred an hour is quick work. and at the other was the great wicket-keeper. there was scarcely time. The rest of the innings was like the gentle rain after the thunderstorm. But from the end of school till lunch things went very wrong indeed. Morris. and two hundred and fifty." he said to Berridge and Marsh. but wickets fell at intervals. however. as usual. It was a quarter to four when the innings began." It seemed to be the general opinion among the members of the Wrykyn . total over the three hundred. Then the great wicket-keeper took off the pads and gloves. on the present occasion. third-change bowlers had been put on. the first-wicket man. they had run up four hundred and sixteen. and was then caught by Mike. Then Joe reached his century. Both batsmen were completely at home. with never a chance or a mishit to vary the monotony. and when the wicket-keeper was run out at length for a lively sixty-three.C.The school revived. all round the wicket. Then came lunch. after hitting three boundaries in his first two overs. A comfortable. unless the bowling happened to get completely collared. The hundred went up at five o'clock. but on a fine day it was not an unusual total for the Wrykyn eleven. rather somnolent feeling settled upon the school. until it looked as if they were likely to stay till the drawing of stumps. He and Marsh proceeded to play themselves in. "By Jove. When the bell rang for the end of morning school. And the pair of them suddenly began to force the pace till the bowling was in a tangled knot. was a thoroughly sound bat. Berridge. Another wicket--two stumps knocked out of the ground by Burgess--helped the thing on. "Lobs. Following out this courageous advice. "Better have a go for them. things settled down. and only last season had massacred a very weak team of Old Wrykynians with a score that only just missed the fourth hundred. Unfortunately. Joe was still in at one end. invincible." said Burgess. and was stumped next ball. was optimistic. I wish I was in. Saunders. a little on the slow side. Bowlers and field were infused with a new life. but exceedingly hard to shift.C. Four after four. A long stand at cricket is a soothing sight to watch. the school first pair. * * * * * Three hundred is a score that takes some making on any ground. five wickets were down for a hundred and thirteen. the end was very near. Two hundred went up. the hundred and fifty at half-past. coming in last. and stumps were to be drawn at a quarter to seven. hit two boundaries. And yet runs were coming at a fair pace. Some years before. His second hit had just lifted the M. There was an absence of hurry about the batsmen which harmonised well with the drowsy summer afternoon. was stumped half-way through the third. to make the runs.C.C. and the fieldsmen retired to posts at the extreme edge of the ground. After this. against Ripton. Runs came with fair regularity. Burgess. and the M.

three of them victims to the lobs. and Morris." he added to Mike. and get the thing over. Saunders. insinuating things in the world. The long stand was followed. he felt better. and he supposed that Morris knew that he was very near his century. The bowler smiled sadly. His heart was racing like the engines of a motor. Mike drew courage from his attitude. As a matter of fact. He saw himself scoring at the rate of twenty-four an over. No good trying for the runs now. as if he hated to have to do these things. when the lob-bowler once more got in his deadly work. Stick in. . letting alone a ball wide of the off-stump under the impression that it was going to break away. as usual. Off the last ball he was stumped by several feet.eleven on the pavilion balcony that Morris and Marsh were in luck. At last he arrived. "and it's ten past six." said Burgess. Bob. tottered out into the sunshine. Bob had fallen to the last ball of the over. Lobs are the most dangerous. because they had earned it. He wished he could stop them. For a time things went well. and Mike. Mike felt as if he was being strangled. and a thin. Morris was still in at one end. but they were distinctly envious. by a series of disasters. several members of his form and of the junior day-room at Wain's nearly burst themselves at that moment. In the second. "That's all you've got to do. What a time Bob was taking to get back to the pavilion! He wanted to rush out. and hit the wicket.. who had gone on to bowl again after a rest. The first over yielded six runs. He had refused to be tempted. Marsh's wicket had fallen at a hundred and eighty. all through gentle taps along the ground. shrill noise as if somebody were screaming in the distance. He was jogging on steadily to his century." All!. with instructions to keep his eye on the lob-man. At the wickets. Marsh hit an over-pitched one along the ground to the terrace bank. And that was the end of Marsh. having done himself credit by scoring seventy. "Two hundred and twenty-nine. He knew his teeth were chattering. It was his turn next. yet he seemed to be absolutely undisturbed. standing ready for Saunders's delivery. and Bob put him through the slips with apparent ease. By the time the scoring-board registered two hundred. Mike knew that Morris had made ninety-eight. looked so calm and certain of himself that it was impossible to feel entirely without hope and self-confidence. It was the same story to-day. The next ball he swept round to the leg boundary. fumbling at a glove. Twenty runs were added. Yet nearly everybody does get out to them. Everybody knows that the man who is content not to try to score more than a single cannot get out to them. seemed to give Morris no trouble. Ellerby left at a hundred and eighty-six. Everybody knows in theory the right way to treat them. Bob Jackson went in next.. He heard miles and miles away a sound of clapping. Mike's heart jumped as he saw the bails go. The team did not grudge them their good fortune. five wickets were down. was disagreeably surprised to find it break in instead.

sir. There was only Reeves to follow him.Morris pushed the first ball away to leg. but always a boundary. The next moment the dreams had come true." said the umpire.. sometimes a cut. Burgess had to hit because it was the only game he knew. Saunders bowled no more half-volleys. extra-cover was trotting to the boundary to fetch the ball. bowled the very best ball that he possibly could. but short leg had retrieved the ball as he reached the crease. moment Mike felt himself again. He felt equal to the situation. and Reeves was a victim to the first straight ball. Mike's whole soul was concentrated on keeping up his wicket. Now. just the right distance away from the off-stump. Then suddenly he heard the umpire say "Last over." It was Joe. He met the lobs with a bat like a barn-door. the sort of ball Mike was wont to send nearly through the net at home. wryly but gratefully. and. Saunders was a conscientious man. From that ball onwards all was for the best in this best of all possible worlds. doubtless. .. and Saunders. was undoubtedly kind-hearted. It is useless to speculate as to whether he was trying to bowl his best that ball. he failed signally. and you can't get out. Even the departure of Morris. and Mike was blushing and wondering whether it was bad form to grin. And in the dreams he was always full of confidence.. and bowled. All nervousness had left him. but he himself must simply stay in. and began to hit out as if he meant to knock off the runs. and invariably hit a boundary. Sometimes a drive. It was like Marjory and the dogs waiting by made a drive. with the railings to fetch the ball if he Saunders ran to the crease. did not disturb him. Half-past six chimed. On the other hand. Burgess came in. but Mike played everything that he did bowl. besides being conscientious. Saunders was beginning his run. the moment which he had experienced only in dreams. The bowling became a shade loose. "Don't be in a funk. it was Mike's first appearance for the school. Mike grinned. "To leg. Twice he was given full tosses to leg. and two hundred and fifty went up on the telegraph board. Burgess continued to hit. Mike would have liked to have run two." and he settled down to keep those six balls out of his wicket. the school was shouting. "Play straight." said a voice. The umpire was signalling to the scoring-box. The hands of the clock seemed to have stopped. caught in the slips off Saunders's next over for a chanceless hundred and five. The moment had come. If so. which he hit to the terrace bank. It was a half-volley. who had taken the gloves when the wicket-keeper went on to bowl. It was all so home-like that for a How often he had seen those two little being in the paddock again. skips and the jump.

Mike walked away from the wickets with Joe and the wicket-keeper. Got him! Three: straight half-volley. who had played twice for the first eleven." said Wyatt.C." said the wicket-keeper. jumping. and missed the wicket by an inch. so you may as well have the thing now. match. As he had made twenty-three not out in a crisis in a first eleven match. and mid-off. Joe.The lob bowler had taken himself off. He hit out." to "This is just to show that we still have our eye on you. But in a few years I'm afraid it's going to be put badly out of joint. All was well. and we have our eye on you.C. But it needed more than one performance to secure the first cap. * * * * * So Wilkins. were not brilliant cricketers. "nothing. Mike played it back to the bowler. Down on it again in the old familiar way. the visiting team. It hummed over his head. "He's not bad. this may not seem an excessive reward. One had to take the rungs of the ladder singly at Wrykyn. fast left-hand. "You are a promising man." Then came the second colours. "I told you so. here you are. as many a good man had done before him. and ran like a streak along the turf and up the bank. Mike let it alone. naturally. at the last ball. to Burgess after the match. Unfortunately for him. and a great howl of delight went up from the school as the umpire took off the bails. and Mike got his place in the next match. First one was given one's third eleven cap. But it was all that he expected. dropped down into the second. The first ball was short and wide of the off-stump. however gentlemanly. against the Gentlemen of the County." But Burgess. almost at a venture. Five: another yorker." said Burgess. You won't get any higher. The match was a draw now whatever happened to him." CHAPTER XIV A SLIGHT IMBROGLIO Mike got his third eleven colours after the M. Number two: yorker. as has been pointed out. at any rate as far ." said the wicket-keeper in tones of grave solicitude. just failed to reach it. of the School House. They might mean anything from "Well. and the Oxford Authentic had gone on. was not a person who ever became gushing with enthusiasm. "I'll give him another shot. That meant. Four: beat him. "I'm sorry about your nose." Mike was a certainty now for the second. "What's wrong with it?" "At present.

C. The school won the toss.C. eh? Well. shaping badly for the most part against Wyatt's slows. supported by some small change. and. bursting with fury. Mike pounded it vigorously. Then Wain's opened their innings. Firby-Smith continued to address Mike merely as the small boy. did better in this match. Wyatt made a few mighty hits. Appleby's bowling was on the feeble side. made a fuss. He had made seventeen. hit one in the direction of cover-point. Morris making another placid century. "Well. The fact that he was playing for the school seemed to make no difference at all. To one who had been brought up on Saunders. was captain of the side. Fortunately for him--though he did not look upon it in that light at the time--he kicked the one person it was most imprudent to kick. Run along. was the tactful speech which he addressed to him on the evening of the M. "you played a very decent innings this bowling was concerned. Mike went in first wicket. and was then caught at cover. With anybody else the thing might have blown over. having summoned him to his study for the purpose. And the Gazeka badly wanted that single. But with Morris making a hundred and seventeen. of the third eleven. getting here and there a single and now and then a two. but the indirect cause was the unbearably patronising manner which the head of Wain's chose to adopt towards him. this score did not show up excessively. as head of the house. and Marsh all passing the half-century. but Firby-Smith. In an innings which lasted for one over he made two runs. prancing down the pitch. with Raikes. The immediate cause of the disturbance was a remark of Mike's. Appleby's made a hundred and fifty odd. making twenty-five. who was one of those lucky enough to have an unabridged innings. The following. House matches had begun. With a certain type of batsman a single is a thing to take big risks for. The innings was declared closed before Mike had a chance of distinguishing himself. Ellerby. We now come to what was practically a turning-point in Mike's career at Wrykyn. He was enjoying life amazingly." he said. There is no doubt that his meteor-like flights at cricket had an unsettling effect on him." Mike departed." he shouted. match. Bob. Raikes possessed few subtleties. "Come on. The next link in the chain was forged a week after the Gentlemen of the County match. as the star. he waxed fat and kicked. to the detriment of Mike's character. The person he selected was Firby-Smith. See? That's all. and Wain's were playing Appleby's. who had the bowling. and Berridge. For some ten minutes all was peace. The Gazeka. when the Gazeka. and had to console himself for the cutting short of his performance by the fact that his average for the school was still infinity. and made three hundred and sixteen for five wickets. and I suppose you're frightfully pleased with yourself. went in first. _verbatim_. and he and Wyatt went in first. and Mike settled down at once to play what he felt was going to be the innings of a lifetime. Firby-Smith scratched away at his end. It happened in this way. . having the most tender affection for his dignity. as is not uncommon with the prosperous. not out. mind you don't go getting swelled head. and was thoroughly set.

Firby-Smith arrived. and be bowled next ball made the wound rankle.Mike. besides being captain of the eleven." [Illustration: "DON'T _LAUGH_. And Mike. "Don't _laugh_." "Cheeked you?" said Burgess. Burgess. you grinning ape!" he cried. Now Firby-Smith not only possessed rather prominent teeth. He avoided Mike on his return to the trees. The only possible way of smoothing over an episode of this kind is for the guilty man to grovel. a prefects' meeting." he said. a man of simple speech. He was the man who arranged prefects' meetings. "Rather a large order. miss it. moved forward in a startled and irresolute manner." "What about him?" "He's been frightfully insolent. could adequately avenge his lacerated dignity. To Mike's distorted vision it seemed that the criminal was amused. Mike's shaft sank in deeply. he was also sensitive on the subject. "I want to speak to you. feeling now a little apprehensive. Firby-Smith did not grovel. chewing the insult. The fact that emotion caused him to swipe at a straight half-volley. and lick him. the wicket-keeper removed the bails. These are solemn moments. "It isn't funny. who had remained in his crease with the idea that nobody even moderately sane would attempt a run for a hit like that. The world swam before Mike's eyes. cover having thrown the ball in." . "It has to be a pretty serious sort of thing for that. The Gazeka brooded apart for the rest of the afternoon. "You know young Jackson in our house. YOU GRINNING APE"] He then made for the trees where the rest of the team were sitting. shouting "Run!" and. "Easy run there. And only a prefects' meeting. was also head of the school. At close of play he sought Burgess. thought Firby-Smith." he said. "I want you to call a prefects' meeting. Burgess. you know. "What's up?" said Burgess. Through the red mist he could see Firby-Smith's face." Burgess looked incredulous." he said reprovingly. avoided him. The sun glinted on his rather prominent teeth.

"Frightful cheek to a school prefect is a serious thing. CHAPTER XV MIKE CREATES A VACANCY Burgess walked off the ground feeling that fate was not using him well. Bob was a person he did not particularly wish to see just then. Bob occurred to him. Still. Burgess was as rigidly conscientious as the captain of a school eleven should be. to judge from the weekly reports in the _Sportsman_ and _Field_. "Rather thick. one of the four schools which Wrykyn met at cricket. were strong this year at batting. therefore. And here was another grievance against fate." And the matter was left temporarily at that. In the second place. being jockeyed into slaughtering a kid whose batting he admired and whom personally he liked. Bob was one of his best friends. "Well. Here was he. "Yes. and particularly the M. match. had given Burgess the idea that Wrykyn was weak at bowling. as the nearest of kin. and let you know to-morrow. look here. and he would have given much to be able to put him in the team." said Firby-Smith. to drop a batsman out of the team in favour of a bowler." "He's frightfully conceited. Geddington. He knew what it felt like to be run out just when one had got set. It's not the sort of thing to rush through without thinking about it. I suppose--What did he say to you?" Firby-Smith related the painful details." "Oh. the results of the last few matches. Burgess started to laugh. anyhow. He thought he would talk it over with somebody. For that morning he had posted up the list of the team to play for the school against Geddington. a well-meaning youth who wanted to be on good terms with all the world. I mean--A prefects' meeting. officially he was bound to support the head of Wain's. Several things had contributed to that melancholy omission. And the worst of it was that he sympathised with Mike. and Bob's name did not appear on that list.C. Rather like crushing a thingummy with a what-d'you-call-it. In the first place. with the air of one uttering an epigram. and he knew exactly how maddening the Gazeka's manner would be on such an occasion. he's a decent kid. I'll think it over.C. And either Mike or Bob must be the man. It was only fair that Bob should be told. . well--Well. On the other hand. but he thought the thing over." he said meditatively. It became necessary. Prefects must stand together or chaos will come. Besides. but turned the laugh into a cough.

"Silly young idiot.' Billy." "It's awfully awkward. dark. "Prefects' meeting! What the dickens is up? What's he been doing? Smith must be drunk. the man. I want to see you. Have some?" "No. Bob." Bob displayed interest and excitement for the first time. It's rather hard to see what to do. These clashings of public duty with private inclination are the drawbacks to the despotic position of captain of cricket at a public school. At batting there was not much to choose between the two. The tall. you know." "Well. I suppose if the Gazeka insists. "Personally. can't you? This is me. So out Bob had gone." he added." continued Burgess gloomily. "Still----" "I know. I say." "I suppose so. Mike was good. Bob was bad. He came to me frothing with rage. It is awkward having to meet your best friend after you have dropped him from the team. though he's your brother----" "Thanks for the 'though. thanks. Don't these studies get beastly hot this weather. Burgess felt very self-conscious as he entered Bob's study.and put the temptation sturdily behind him." . "Hullo. and was rather glad that he had a topic of conversation ready to hand. sitting over here. You know how to put a thing nicely. that he did not hold him responsible in any way for the distressing acts of Burgess. and Neville-Smith. a fair fast bowler at all times and on his day dangerous. with a cheerfulness rather over-done in his anxiety to show Burgess. "Take a pew. "Still. look here. I sympathise with the kid. took his place. but in fielding there was a great deal. and wanted me to call a prefects' meeting and touch young Mike up. but he _is_ an ass. the Gazeka _is_ a prefect----" Bob gnawed a pen-holder morosely. What's all the row about?" Burgess repeated the main facts of the case as he had them from Firby-Smith. "Busy. What's Mike been up to?" "It's that old fool the Gazeka." suggested Burgess." he said." said Bob. "Sickening thing being run out. one's bound to support him. There's some ginger-beer in the cupboard. Bob?" he asked. "that ass of a young brother of yours--Sorry. you can. the captain. handsome chap. and it is difficult to talk to him as if nothing had happened.

"Don't do that. "Well. you're a pal of his. I can easily talk all right in a second if he's treated the now." he said. there's just a chance Firby-Smith won't press the thing. aren't you? Well. having to sit there and look on. "Burgess was telling me. don't see there's a need for anything of best side you've got. apart from everything else." Firby-Smith looked a little blank at this." With which glowing eulogy he dashed out of the room." emended the aggrieved party. is there? I mean. He gets right way. Say you'll curse your brother and make him apologise. They're supposed to be for kids who steal buns at the shop or muck about generally. I know. Seeing Bob. Not for a chap who curses a fellow who runs him out. He had a great admiration for Bob. He found that outraged hero sitting moodily in his study like Achilles in his tent. By now he'll have simmered down a bit."Awful rot. Look here. that frightful young brother of yours----" "I know. You must play the the old Gazeka over. nothing--I mean. "I didn't think of you." he said. "You see it now. He wants kicking. Prefects' lickings aren't meant for that sort of thing. and for an instant the idea of going to Geddington with the team." It was a difficult moment for Bob. not much of a catch for me. I tell you what. go and ask him to drop the business. You know. "I say. too. I'm a prefect. I'll go and do it Burgess looked miserable. don't you?" Firby-Smith returned to the original grievance. "I thought you hadn't. "Yes?" "Oh. you know. and that I'll kick him out of the team for the Geddington match. But he recovered himself. you're not a bad sort. made him waver. would it be. "I wanted to see you." said Bob." ." he said. "Look here. as he would certainly do if Mike did not play. thanking his stars that he had won through a confoundedly awkward business. Bob. One cannot help one's thoughts. Bob went across to Wain's to interview and soothe Firby-Smith. "I that sort. you know. Not much good lugging the prefects into it." said Bob. he became all animation. He hadn't had time to get over it when he saw me. I don't know." "He wants a frightful licking from the prefects. though." he said.

He wished he could find some way of repaying him. Burton was a slippery young gentleman. after the manner of a stage "excited crowd. And. fourteen years of age. really. Firby-Smith. though without success. I think if I saw him and cursed him. "What d'you think he'll do?" had induced a very chastened frame of mind. he gave him to understand." said Mike. It chanced that Bob and he had had another small encounter immediately after breakfast. He perceived that he had walked very nearly into a hornets' nest. and the offensively forgiving." "No. He was a punctured balloon. Curiously enough. so subdued was his fighting spirit. "I say. of Donaldson's. it was an enemy of Bob's who suggested the way--Burton." "Of course it was." "What's that?" inquired Mike. Mike came away with a confused picture in his mind of a horde of furious prefects bent on his slaughter. you know. he. say-no-more-about-it-but-take care-in-future air of the head of the house roused no spark of resentment in him. "I'm specially glad for one reason." "Thanks. would have been prosecuted with the utmost rigour of the law. of course. For the moment all the jauntiness and exuberance had been drained out of him. . he felt grateful to Bob. and went to find Mike. All he wanted was to get the thing done with. and Burton felt revengeful." and Bob waving them back. it was frightful cheek. there's that. and owed him many grudges. The apology to the Gazeka was made without reserve. had not omitted to lay stress on the importance of Bob's intervention." said Burton. and sent him up to you to apologise--How would that do?" "All right. in the course of his address. "I'm jolly glad you're playing for the first against Geddington. After all. It isn't as if he did that sort of thing as a habit. I did run him out. Reflection. But for Bob. and the realisation of his escape made him agree readily to all the conditions imposed. He realised that Bob had done him a good turn."Well. most of all. Mike. and unburdened his soul to him. * * * * * The lecture on deportment which he read that future All-England batsman in a secluded passage near the junior day-room left the latter rather limp and exceedingly meek. Mike's all right. He happened to meet Mike going to school next morning. and the distinctly discouraging replies of those experts in school law to whom he had put the question. All right then. With Mike he had always tried to form an alliance. Still. who had frequently come into contact with Bob in the house." "Thanks. He was not inclined to be critical." "Yes." said Bob. without interest.

" At any other time Mike would have heard Bob called a beast without active protest. Mike tapped at Burgess's study door." "I say. but several times. It seemed to him that it was necessary to repay Bob. We wanted your batting. He would have felt that it was no business of his to fight his brother's battles for him. On the evening before the Geddington match. CHAPTER XVI . in a day or two. though. "I've crocked my wrist a bit. yes. rather. He kicked Burton.54 next morning. with the comfortable feeling that he had managed to combine duty and pleasure after all. wrote a note to Bob at Donaldson's. some taint. came to the conclusion that it must be something in the Jackson blood. telling him to be ready to start with the team for Geddington by the 8." said Mike. Not once or twice." "Thanks." "Good-night. just before lock-up. It must be remembered that he was in a confused mental condition." "Hope so. Burgess. I'm afraid I shan't be able to play to-morrow. But on this occasion he deviated from his rule. weighing this remark." "How did you do that? You were all right at the nets?" "Slipped as I was changing. He tapped with his right hand. too. and that the only thing he realised clearly was that Bob had pulled him out of an uncommonly nasty hole. for his left was in a sling. as it were. He'd have been playing but for you. "Come in!" yelled the captain. Be all right. "Hullo!" "I'm awfully sorry. He thought the thing over more fully during school." And Burgess. retiring hurriedly. and gradually made up his mind. * * * * * Mike walked on." said Mike stolidly. and his decision remained unaltered. Beastly bad luck. Good-night. "Is it bad?" "Nothing much. that's bad luck. so that Burton. anyway. They were _all_ beasts."Because your beast of a brother has been chucked out. I suppose?" "Oh.

It's like going over the stables when you're stopping at a country-house. Uncle John." "They're playing Geddington. Only it's away. He had been dashing up to Scotland on the day when Mike first became a Wrykynian. took the early express to Wrykyn in order to pay a visit of inspection. But it's really nothing. what shall we do." "H'm. "It isn't anything." "Hurt?" "Not much." "How did you do that?" "Slipped while I was changing after cricket. "School playing anybody to-day. What have you been doing to yourself?" "Crocked my wrist a bit. He had thereupon left the service. and. His telegram arrived during morning school. Mike? I want to see a match." "Why aren't you--Hullo. Still. It won't do any harm having somebody examine it who knows a bit about these things. and. at the request of Mike's mother. he had looked in on Mike's people for a brief space. Uncle John took command of the situation at once. Coming south. . It's nothing much. There's a second match on." Mike did not appear to relish this prospect." "Never mind. I think I should like to see the place first. and now spent most of his time flitting from one spot of Europe to another.AN EXPERT EXAMINATION Mike's Uncle John was a wanderer on the face of the earth. I didn't see." "Doctor seen it?" "No. had inherited enough money to keep him in comfort for the rest of his life. Somebody ought to look at it. but a few weeks in an uncomfortable hotel in Skye and a few days in a comfortable one in Edinburgh had left him with the impression that he had now seen all that there was to be seen in North Britain and might reasonably shift his camp again. really. Now. It doesn't matter a bit. Be all right by Monday. I'll have a look later on. Go on the river?" "I shouldn't be able to steer. thanks. Mike went down to the station to meet him after lunch. after an adventurous career. He had been an army surgeon in the days of his youth. Your mother's sure to ask me if you showed me round." "I could manage about that. mainly in Afghanistan.

swept a half-volley to leg round to the bank where they were sitting. they'll probably keep him in. "Chap in Donaldson's. Of course. "I suppose you would have been playing here but for your wrist?" "No. It was one of those days when the ball looks like a large vermilion-coloured football as it leaves the bowler's hand. who had gone in first wicket for the second eleven.Got to be done. I was playing for the first. Very nice. He's in the School House. Mike. "pretty good fun batting on a day like this. that. A sudden." two or three times in an absent voice. and it was no good brooding over the might-have-beens now. "Ah yes. bitter realisation of all he had given up swept over him." "For the first? For the school! My word. If ever there was a day when it seemed to Mike that a century would have been a certainty. I didn't know that. I should think. I didn't know you were a regular member of the team. but I thought that was only as a substitute." "Rather awkward. The fellow at the other end is Wilkins. But I wish I . I've got plenty of time. Neville-Smith. it was this Saturday. I see. Will you get another chance?" "Depends on Bob. and Henfrey got one of those a week ago. Still--And the Geddington ground was supposed to be one of the easiest scoring grounds of all the public schools! "Well hit. Then there'll be only the last place left. There are only three vacancies." "Isn't there room for both of you?" "Such a lot of old colours. and done well." "Has Bob got your place?" Mike nodded." It is never very interesting playing the part of showman at school. as Trevor. and better do it as soon as possible. where the second eleven were playing a neighbouring engineering school. No wonder you're feeling badly treated. It was a glorious day. if he does well against Geddington. I expect they'll give one of the other two to a bowler. Both Mike and his uncle were inclined to scamp the business. The sun had never seemed to Mike so bright or the grass so green. What bad luck. They look as if they were getting set. by George!" remarked Uncle John. I remember your father saying you had played once for the school. "If he does well to-day." said Mike. By Jove. but he choked the feeling down. it's Bob's last year." "Still. "That's Trevor." he said enviously. The thing was done. Mike pointed out the various landmarks without much enthusiasm--it is only after one has left a few years that the school buildings take to themselves romance--and Uncle John said." Uncle John detected the envious note. and they passed on to the cricket field.

"It's really nothing. "is that one isn't allowed to smoke on the grounds." stammered Mike." They walked down the road towards the school landing-stage.could get in this year. "But I believe they're weak in bowling. sing out." said Mike. and we'll put in there. "Put the rope over that stump. caught a crab. When you get to my age you need it. Can you manage with one hand? Here. Boys ought to be thinking about keeping themselves fit and being good at games. as he pulled up-stream with strong. and steered the boat in under the shade of the branches. but his uncle had already removed the sling. I badly want a pipe. recovered himself. To Mike it seemed as if everything in the world was standing still and waiting." "Not bad that." After they had watched the match for an hour. "I hope you don't smoke. and was examining the arm with the neat rapidity of one who has been brought up to such things. Lunch. and sighed contentedly. "Ye--no. Mike was crimson." Uncle John looked over his shoulder. "There ought to be a telegram from Geddington by this time. . A-ah!" He blew a great cloud of smoke into the air. Uncle John looked up sharply." "Pull your left. "The worst of a school. "Geddington 151 for four. Uncle John's restless nature asserted itself. then gave it a little twist. unskilful stroke." said Mike." said Mike. He could hear nothing but his own breathing." Apparently Bob had not had a chance yet of distinguishing himself. Let's have a look at the wrist. The next piece of shade that you see. "That willow's what you want. His uncle pressed the wrist gingerly once or twice. They got up. Mike?" "No." he began." "Rotten trick for a boy. Which reminds me." said Uncle John. The telegram read." A hunted expression came into Mike's eyes. "Suppose we go for a pull on the river now?" he suggested. "Let's just call at the shop. let me--Done it? Good. "That hurt?" he asked. I wonder how Bob's got on.

He'd be most frightfully sick if he knew. Uncle John smoked on in weighty silence. well. would they give him his cap? Supposing. Then there was a clatter as a briar pipe dropped on to the floor of the boat. so I thought I might as well let him. while Mike." When in doubt. Mike told it." Conversation dwindled to vanishing-point. That's how it was. where his fate was even now being sealed. I think. (This. it may be mentioned as an interesting biographical fact." . and his uncle sat up." The idea had occurred to him just before he spoke. A faint snore from Uncle John broke in on his meditations. "Do you always write with your left hand? And if you had gone with the first eleven to Geddington. dash it all then. swear you won't tell him. There was an exam. wouldn't that have got you out of your exam? Try again. "May as well tell me. "Jove. To Uncle John it did not appear in the same light. What's the time? Just on six? Didn't know it was so late. was the only occasion in his life on which Mike earned money at the rate of fifteen shillings a half-minute. Look here.. and he seemed a bit sick at not playing for the first. "I know. on. Only----" "Well?" "Oh."What's the game?" inquired Uncle John. I won't give you away. Lock-up's at half-past. gaping. staring up at the blue sky through the branches of the willow. Mike said nothing. really.. It had struck him as neat and plausible." "I ought to be getting back soon. one may as well tell the truth. Why this wounded warrior business when you've no more the matter with you than I have?" Mike hesitated." Uncle John was silent. I was nearly asleep. "I only wanted to get out of having to write this morning. Inwardly he was deciding that the five shillings which he had intended to bestow on Mike on his departure should become a sovereign..) "Swear you won't tell him. It wasn't that. let his mind wander to Geddington. How had the school got on? What had Bob done? If he made about twenty. Old Bob got me out of an awful row the day before yesterday. There was a twinkle in his uncle's eyes." "I won't tell him.

How's your wrist?" "Oh. Neville-Smith four). "Any colours?" asked Mike after a pause. He was singing comic songs when he wasn't trying to put Ellerby under the seat. as they reached the school gates. only they wouldn't let me. "Shall we go and look?" They walked to the shop."Up with the anchor. CHAPTER XVII ANOTHER VACANCY Wyatt got back late that night. "By Jove. Don't fall overboard. Mike pushed his way through the crowd. ." said Mike." "There'll be another telegram. I should think. I wanted to go to sleep. and rejoined his uncle. better. A second piece of grey paper had been pinned up under the first. and silently slid a sovereign into Mike's hand." He paused for a moment." Wyatt began to undress. Uncle John felt in his pocket." he added carelessly. "It was simply baking at Geddington." he said. I'm going to shove her off." Mike worked his way back through the throng. It was a longer message this time. It was the only possible reply. Marsh 58. And I came back in a carriage with Neville-Smith and Ellerby. Wrykyn 270 for nine (Berridge 86. "We won. eh? We are not observed. "Well?" said Uncle John. arriving at the dormitory as Mike was going to bed. thanks. and they ragged the whole time. First eleven colours were generally given in the pavilion after a match or on the journey home. It ran as follows: "Geddington 247 (Burgess six wickets. "Bob made forty-eight. You can tackle that rope with two hands now. Old Smith was awfully bucked because he'd taken four wickets. then. I'm done. Jackson 48). I should think he'd go off his nut if he took eight ever.

I hear he's got an average of eighty in school matches this season. and he was out when he'd made about sixteen. He thought of Bob's iniquities with sorrow rather than wrath. only the umpire didn't seem to know that it's l-b-w when you get your leg right in front of the wicket and the ball hits it. Just lost them the match. Sent down a couple which he put to the boundary. He turns a delicate green when he sees a catch coming. Only one or two thirds. Never saw a clearer case in my life. He felt towards him much as a father feels towards a prodigal son whom there is still a . off Billy. A bit lucky. With great guile he had fed this late cut. He was very fond of Bob. but two missed catches in one over was straining the bonds of human affection too far. He writhed in bed as he remembered the second of the two chances which the wretched Bob had refused. he fell asleep. He ought to have been out before he'd scored. Bob's the sort of man who wouldn't catch a ball if you handed it to him on a plate." "Why." "What was Bob's innings like?" "Not bad. Bit of luck for Bob. Ripping innings bar those two chances. So he turned to pleasanter reflections: the yorker which had shattered the second-wicket man. Their umpire. I was in at the other end. but now he's got so nervous that he's a dozen times worse. can't remember who. just as he had expected: and he felt that life was a good thing after all when the ball just touched the corner of the bat and flew into Bob's hands. to-day." "Most captains would have done. too. No first. He was pretty bad at the beginning of the season. he felt. There would have been serious trouble between David and Jonathan if either had persisted in dropping catches off the other's bowling. He let their best man off twice in one over. Beastly man to bowl to. Knocked me off in half a dozen overs." Burgess. And Bob dropped it! The memory was too bitter. Billy wouldn't have given him his cap after the match if he'd made a hundred. Jenkins and Clephane. He didn't give the ghost of a chance after that."No. Then fired a third much faster and a bit shorter. reviewing the match that night. Chap had got a late cut which he fancied rather. Soothed by these memories. only Burgess is so keen on fielding that he rather keeps off it. And the man always will choose Billy's bowling to drop catches off. Bit rotten for the Geddington chaps. he would get insomnia. as he lay awake in his cubicle. And. and another chap. If he dwelt on it. And Billy would cut his rich uncle from Australia if he kept on dropping them off him. Next morning he found himself in a softened frame of mind. Bob puts them both on the floor." "I should have thought they'd have given him his colours. did he field badly?" "Rottenly. with watercress round it. though. and the chap went on and made a hundred odd. when he does give a couple of easy chances. The scene was indelibly printed on his mind. had come to much the same conclusion. Bob's fielding's perfectly sinful. Chap had a go at it. and the slow head-ball which had led to a big hitter being caught on the boundary.

" "Second be blowed! I want your batting in the first. I'll practise like mad. for most of the shops to which any one ever thought of going were in the High Street. It's simply awful. Bob. The beauty of fielding in the deep is that no unpleasant surprises can be sprung upon one. Try it. better known in criminal circles as Shoeblossom." "All right then. I'm frightfully sorry. But there were certain inquiring minds who liked to ferret about in odd corners. and hoped for the day. Bob." Bob was all remorse. I know that if a catch does come. as he stood regarding the game from afar. but I mean.chance of reforming. This did not affect the bulk of the school. I get in the dickens of a funk directly the bowler starts his run now. and stop an occasional drive along the carpet. It will be remembered that on the morning after the Great Picnic the headmaster made an announcement in Hall to the effect that. He overtook Bob on his way to chapel. he played for the second. drop by drop. Do you think you'd really do better in the deep?" "I'm almost certain I should. found his self-confidence returning slowly." "I know. I believe I should do better in the deep. where he had not much to do except throw the ball back to the bowler. I could get time to watch them there. Trevor'll hit me up catches. owing to an outbreak of chicken-pox in the town." "Well. * * * * * His opportunity came at last. Among these was one Leather-Twigg." The conversation turned to less pressing topics." "That one yesterday was right into your hands. I can't time them. Shoeblossom was a curious mixture of the Energetic Ragger and the . of Seymour's. I wish you'd give me a shot in the deep--for the second. accordingly. all streets except the High Street would be out of bounds. Both of them were. As for Mike. About your fielding. why _can't_ you hold them? It's no good being a good bat--you're that all right--if you're going to give away runs in the field. I shall miss it. "Look here. I hate the slips. There is just that moment or two for collecting one's thoughts which makes the whole difference. Bob figured on the boundary. Directness was always one of Burgess's leading qualities. "It's those beastly slip catches. * * * * * In the next two matches." "Do you know. I'm certain the deep would be much better.

one night under the eye of a short-sighted master). and a ball hit from a neighbouring net nearly scalped him. the book was obviously the last word in hot stuff. be kept warm and out of draughts and not permitted to scratch himself. where tea might be had at a reasonable sum. of the first eleven. his collar burst and blackened and his face apoplectically crimson. but people threw cushions at him. at the same moment. all amongst the dust and bluebottles. what was more important. He made his way there. Chicken-pox is no respecter of persons. where he went about his lawful occasions as if there were no such thing as chicken-pox in the world. however necessary such an action might seem to him. In brief. On the Tuesday afternoon. who was top of the school averages. Oakes.Quiet Student. The professional advice of Dr. He tried the junior day-room. peace. Two days later Barry felt queer. he was driven across to the Infirmary in a four-wheeler. Essentially a man of moods. On the Wednesday morning he would be in receipt of four hundred lines from his housemaster for breaking three windows and a gas-globe. Shoeblossom came away. his late cuts that were wont to set the pavilion in a roar? Wrapped in a blanket. and thought of Life. would be Shoeblossom. But all the while the microbe was getting in some unostentatious but clever work." and for the next day or two he wandered about like a lost spirit trying to find a sequestered spot in which to read it. was called for. Anything in the nature of concentration became impossible in these circumstances. he was attending J. He tried out of doors. He. lest Authority should see him out of bounds. going down with a swagger-stick to investigate. strolling in some shady corner of the grounds you would come upon him lying on his chest. and Shoeblossom took up his abode in the Infirmary. Marsh. His inability to hit on such a spot was rendered more irritating by the fact that. squealing louder than any two others. and found himself oppressed by a queer distaste for food. and looking like the spotted marvel of a travelling circus. Then he recollected that in a quiet backwater off the High Street there was a little confectioner's shop. entering the High Street furtively. and at the bottom of the heap. Where were his drives now. the son of the house. deep in some work of fiction and resentful of interruption. the school doctor. and it became incumbent upon Burgess to select a substitute for him. And so it came about that Mike soared once again into the ranks of the . and also. where he read _Punch_. to judge from the first few chapters (which he had managed to get through during prep. Upstairs. for chicken-pox. G. sucked oranges. The next victim was Marsh. too. settled down to a thoughtful perusal of chapter six. you would find a tangled heap of squealing humanity on the floor. the doctor was recommending that Master John George. disappeared from Society. On a Monday evening you would hear a hideous uproar proceeding from Seymour's junior day-room. Shoeblossom. He had occasional headaches. A week later Shoeblossom began to feel queer. and. and in the dingy back shop. and returned to the school. It happened about the date of the Geddington match that he took out from the school library a copy of "The Iron Pirate.

three years ago. It generally happens at least once in a school cricket season that the team collapses hopelessly. what then?" "Don't you ever have feeds in the dorms. The weather may have had something to do with it. bar the servants. they failed miserably. I remember. All sorts of luxuries. found themselves considerably puzzled by a slow left-hander. My pater is away for a holiday in Norway. and I'm alone. batting when the wicket was easier. for rain fell early in the morning. I've got the taste in my mouth still. made a dozen. and Mike kept his end up. by showing up well with the ball against the Incogniti when the others failed with the bat. did anything to distinguish himself. But on this particular day. batting first on the drying wicket. for Neville-Smith. made it practically certain that he would get one of the two vacancies. Some schools do it in nearly every match. and after that the rout began. and that by a mere twenty odd runs in a hard-fought game. but nobody except Wyatt. Got through a slice. when Wain's won the footer cup. Too old now. The total was a hundred and seven.elect. against a not overwhelmingly strong side. and was not out eleven. Bob. too. we got up and fed at about two in the morning. "there will be the biggest bust of modern times at my place. but Wrykyn so far had been particularly fortunate this year. Sardines on sugar-biscuits. His food ran out. They had only been beaten once. And I can square them. doubled this. Have to look after my digestion. Do you remember Macpherson? Left a couple of years ago." . who hit out at everything and knocked up thirty before he was stumped. and found his name down in the team to play against the Incogniti. The general opinion of the school after this match was that either Mike or Bob would have to stand down from the team when it was definitely filled up. CHAPTER XVIII BOB HAS NEWS TO IMPART Wrykyn went down badly before the Incogs. going in fourth wicket. "Well. Morris and Berridge left with the score still short of ten. Wonderful chap! But what about this thing of yours? What time's it going to be?" "Eleven suit you?" "All right. Will you come?" "Tea?" "Tea!" said Neville-Smith scornfully. and ate that. after lights-out in the houses?" "Used to when I was a kid. and the Incogniti. so he spread brown-boot polish on bread. and the school. "If I do" he said to Wyatt. for no apparent reason.

he insisted on his coming in and having some tea. Pity to spoil the record. though. Has Burgess said anything to you yet?" "No. so perhaps it would be better if Bob got the place as it's his last season." "Bit better. But young Mike's all over him as a bat. "What! Why?" "That's what I wanted to see you about. making desultory conversation the while. In a year or two that kid'll be a marvel. I don't know. It required more tact than he had at his disposal to carry off a situation like this. "because it is. and he privately thought it rather tactless of the latter when." Mike stared. When he had finished. Mike. He got tea ready. "It's no good pretending it isn't an awkward situation. Beastly awkward." "You were all right. Liable at any moment to miss a sitter. yes."How about getting out?" "I'll do it as quickly as the team did to-day." "What about the Jacksons?" "It's going to be a close thing. and mine for not being able to field like an ordinary human being. passed him the bread. what?" Mike murmured unintelligibly through a mouthful of bread-and-jam." "Oh. I can't say more than that. He's bound to get in next year. Still." "You get on much better in the deep." "Awful rot the pater sending us to the same school. Mike shuffled uncomfortably as his brother filled the kettle and lit the Etna. he would just do it. It's your fault for being such a young Infant Prodigy. of course. one wants the best man. Bob. "Not seen much of each other lately. as if there were no particular reason why either of them should feel uncomfortable in the other's presence. and sat down. was more at his ease. We've all been at Wrykyn. he poured Mike out a cup. of course. being older. Not that it matters much really whether I do now." * * * * * Mike avoided Bob as much as possible during this anxious period. meeting him one day outside Donaldson's." "I'm an exceptional sort of chap. If Bob's fielding were to improve suddenly." continued Bob. Why? What about?" .

And after that there seemed to be nothing much to talk about. I've a sort of idea our little race is over." said Mike." muttered Mike. I don't want you to go about feeling that you've blighted my life. Spence said. They thought the place was empty. What do you think. but. I was in the pav. just now. There was a copy of the _Wrykynian_ lying on the mantelpiece. "I don't propose to kiss you or anything.' said Spence. but it would have been just as bad for you if you'd been the one dropped." It was the custom at Wrykyn. and I picked it up and started reading it. and then sheered off myself. As it isn't me. After all. And then I heard Burgess and Spence jawing on the steps. when you congratulated a man on getting colours. and dashing up side-streets to avoid me because you think the sight of you will be painful.' 'Yes. Billy agreed with him. sir. of course.' said old Bill. 'That's just what I think."Well. to shake his hand. rot. I couldn't help hearing what they said. don't let's go to the other extreme. 'Well." resumed Bob. but apparently he does consult Spence sometimes. And so home. what I wanted to see you about was this. on the other hand. Bob. He's a shade better than R. "Well. I fancy you've won. of course. "Thanks. in the First room. and now he had achieved it." Mike looked at the floor. but don't feel bound to act on it. awfully. sir?' Spence said.'s like a sounding-board. and I shall cadge a seat in the pavilion from you when you're playing for England at the Oval..' I had a sort of idea that old Billy liked to boss things all on his own. he's cricket-master. and so on.'" "Oh. and that's what he's there for. now. it's about as difficult a problem as any captain of cricket at Wrykyn has ever had to tackle." "I've not heard a word----" "I have. So Mike edged out of the room. They shook hands. trying to find a batting-glove I'd mislaid. I'm simply saying what I think. I'll tell you what makes me think the thing's settled. but still----' And then they walked down the steps. I'll give you my opinion. I'm not saying that it isn't a bit of a brick just missing my cap like this. He was sorry for Bob. So there wasn't any noise to show anybody outside that there was some one in the room. 'I don't know what to do. Congratulate you. and in a year or two. 'Well. '_I_ think M. there'll be no comparison. "Not at all. The pav. but he would not have been human (which he certainly was) if the triumph of having won through at last into the first eleven had not dwarfed commiseration. . 'Decidedly M. It had been his one ambition. It's the fortune of war. I heard every word. 'It's rough on Bob. Burgess. I'm jolly glad it's you. This was one of the most harrowing interviews he had ever been through. I waited a bit to give them a good start. There was nothing much to _be_ said. sir. and said nothing. Well.' he said. Billy said. doing a big Young Disciple with Wise Master act. wiping the sweat off his forehead. and tore across to Wain's.

"what rot! Why on earth can't he leave us alone!" For getting up an hour before his customary time for rising was not among Mike's favourite pastimes. The only possible confidant was Wyatt. shooting with the School Eight for the Ashburton." "Oh. as he would otherwise almost certainly have been." said Mike. a few words scrawled in pencil at the bottom caught his eye. This was to the good. He aimed at the peach-bloom complexion. and this silent alarm proved effective. Until the news was official he could not mention it to the common herd. And Wyatt was at Bisley.30 to-morrow morning.The annoying part of the thing was that he had nobody to talk to about it. He could manage another quarter of an hour between the sheets. a prospect that appealed to him. therefore. He belonged to the school of thought which holds that a man becomes plain and pasty if deprived of his full spell in bed. dash it. He took his quarter of an hour. He had banged his head on the pillow six times over-night.-S. It would have to be done. Mike could tell nobody. Seymour's on the following Monday was on the board. It wouldn't do. . even on a summer morning.--W. The list of the team to play for Wain's _v_. To be routed out of bed a clear hour before the proper time. F. orders were orders. As he passed it. It would only take him ten minutes to wash and get into his flannels. he felt. and a little more. CHAPTER XIX MIKE GOES TO SLEEP AGAIN Mike was a stout supporter of the view that sleep in large quantities is good for one. For bull's-eyes as well as cats came within Wyatt's range as a marksman. was not. Cricket took up too much of his time for him to be captain of the Eight and the man chosen to shoot for the Spencer. as it always does. Reaching out a hand for his watch. He woke from a sort of doze to find that it was twenty-five past. Until he returned. In this fermenting state Mike went into the house. And by the time he returned the notice would probably be up in the Senior Block with the other cricket notices. he found that it was five minutes past six. When he woke it seemed even less attractive than it had done when he went to sleep. Still. "All the above will turn out for house-fielding at 6. but even though short of practice he was well up in the team.

being ordered about. But not a chap who. And certainly Mike was not without qualms as he knocked at the door. What was the matter with his fielding? _It_ was all right. Was this right. You weren't at house-fielding this morning. and waited. put upon by a worm who had only just scraped into the third. by the way. and the strong right hand of Justice allowed to put in some energetic work. that the foot of Authority was set firmly down. Here was he. about to receive his first eleven colours on this very day probably. he asked himself. Perhaps it may spoil one's whole day. Who _was_ he. which lions seldom do) and behaving in other respects like a monarch of the desert. One may reason with oneself clearly and forcibly without the slightest effect. One simply lies there. Mike thought he would take another minute. he said to himself. dash it all. His eyes gleamed behind their pince-nez. Firby-Smith straightened his tie. had got his first _for_ fielding! It was with almost a feeling of self-righteousness that Mike turned over on his side and went to sleep again. It was time. I want to know what it all means. as it was gradually borne in upon him that this was not a question of mere lateness--which. would be bad enough. and went in in response to the hoarse roar from the other side of it. in coming to his den. was doing a deed which would make the achievement of Daniel seem in comparison like the tentative effort of some timid novice.Man's inability to get out of bed in the morning is a curious thing. and jolly quick. And one also knows that a single resolute heave will do the trick. the more outrageous did it seem that he should be dragged out of bed to please Firby-Smith's vapid mind. Now he began to waver. the massive mind of the Gazeka was filled with rage. "look here. One would have felt. The head of the house despatched his fag in search of Mike. adjusting his pince-nez (a thing. The more he considered the Gazeka's insignificance and futility and his own magnificence. One knows that delay means inconvenience. The painful interview took place after breakfast. "Young Jackson. Make the rest of the team fag about. and glared." he said. after all? This started quite a new train of thought. He paced up and down the room like a hungry lion. he felt. And during that minute there floated into his mind the question. for when he said six-thirty he meant six-thirty--but of actual desertion. But logic is of no use. looking at him. Who _was_ Firby-Smith? That was the point. And outside in the cricket-field. His comments on the team's fielding that morning were bitter and sarcastic. Was this proper? And the hands of the watch moved round to twenty to. inconvenienced--in short. Didn't you see the notice?" . yes. that Mike. Previously Mike had firmly intended to get up--some time.

yet intelligible code of morality to tell lies to save himself. and Firby-Smith a toothy weed. "You think the whole frightful place belongs to you. His real reason for not turning up to house-fielding was that he considered himself above such things. Happy thought: over-slept himself." said Mike indignantly. What do you mean by over-sleeping yourself?" Very trying this sort of thing. Just because you've got your second. you do. You go siding about as if you'd bought it. That's what you've got. just listen to me. I've had my eye on you for some time. See?" Mike said nothing. There was no arguing against the fact that the head of the house _was_ a toothy weed. "Six!" "Five past. this. what do you mean by it? What?" Mike hesitated. You've got swelled head. "Yes. you went to sleep again. turn up or not. The point is that you're one of the house team. Could he give this excuse? He had not his Book of Etiquette by him at the moment. It doesn't matter whether I'm only in the third and you're in the first. You think the place belongs to you. He mentioned this. That's got nothing to do with it. YOU FRIGHTFUL KID?"] Mike remained stonily silent. When others were concerned he could suppress the true and suggest the false with a face of brass." "Oh. "Then you frightful kid. but he felt a firm conviction that it would not be politic to say so. It was not according to his complicated. and I'm captain of it. you frightful kid?" [Illustration: "DO--YOU--SEE. did you? Well.Mike admitted that he had seen the notice. and I've seen it coming on." said the Gazeka shrilly. "What time did you wake up?" "Six. The rather large grain of truth in what . Awfully embarrassing. Frightful swelled head. you think you can do what you like. young man. but he rather fancied not." "I don't. as you please. "Over-slept yourself! You must jolly well not over-sleep yourself. so you've jolly well got to turn out for fielding with the others when I think it necessary." said Mike." "Why didn't you get up then?" "I went to sleep again. "Do--you--see.

My fatal modesty has always been a hindrance to me in life. and stared at a photograph on the wall." he said. I wonder if the moke's gone to bed yet." "Again! I never saw such chaps as you two. He was determined not to give in and say that he saw even if the head of the house invoked all the majesty of the prefects' room to help him. Failing that. Zam-buk's what you want. Who's been quarrelling with you?" "It's only that ass Firby-Smith. water will do. brandishing a jug of water and a glass.Firby-Smith had said had gone home. If it's a broken heart. and he himself had scored thirty at the two hundred and twenty-seven at the five hundred totals. with a dash of raspberry-vinegar. and his feelings were hurt. Very heady. which had put him in a very good humour with the world. full of the true. and Mike began to brood over his wrongs once more. and I suppose it always will be. A jug of water drawn from the well in the old courtyard where my ancestors have played as children for centuries back would just about save my life." . and surveyed Mike. which was an improvement of eight places on their last year's form. but cheerful. or is there a mortgage on the family estates? By Jove. for a beaker full of the warm south. The man who can wing a cat by moonlight can put a bullet where he likes on a target. Wyatt was worn out. as he had nearly done once before. the blushful Hippocrene! Have you ever tasted Hippocrene. I could do with a stoup of Malvoisie. but that was to give the other fellows a chance. "Me ancient skill has not deserted me. who had maintained a moody silence throughout this speech. "For pains in the back try Ju-jar." He left the dormitory. He set his teeth. He produced a swagger-stick from a corner. young Jackson? Rather like ginger-beer. well! And what of the old homestead? Anything happened since I went away? Me old father. What one really wants here is a row of stars. What was the trouble this time? Call him a grinning ape again? Your passion for the truth'll be getting you into trouble one of these days. "Oh. Always at it. Mike's jaw set more tightly. Well. "That's the cats. Firby-Smith's manner became ominously calm. A-ah!" He put down the glass. I'll go down and look. I didn't hit the bull every time. "What's your trouble?" he asked. as the unpleasant truth about ourselves is apt to do. The school had finished sixth for the Ashburton. Wyatt came back. is he well? Has the lost will been discovered. "Do you see?" he asked again. * * * * * Mike was still full of his injuries when Wyatt came back.

but his eyes stared fixedly from above it. You stick on side. but." "What! Why?" "Oh. 'Talking of side. you may have noticed it--but I must put in a well-chosen word at this juncture. Sit up and listen to what your kind old uncle's got to say to you about manners and deportment. you've got to obey him. and took a sip of water from the carafe which stood at his elbow." "I didn't turn up. and. Did you simply bunk it?" "Yes. "Such body. The speaker then paused. and one of them is bunking a thing when you're put down for it." he said. It's too early in the morning. I don't want to jaw--I'm one of those quiet chaps with strong. and. and a voice 'Hear! Hear!'" Mike rolled over in bed and glared up at the orator. That's discipline. blood as you are at cricket. you'll have a rotten time here."He said I stuck on side. proceeded to speak wisdom for the good of his soul. 'Jackson. "I say. look here. Why should there be one law for the burglar and one for me? But you were . "Nothing like this old '87 water. Cheers from the audience. Don't pretend to be dropping off to sleep. Otherwise. I defy any one to. I don't know. putting down the jug. should I not talk about discipline?" "Considering you break out of the house nearly every night. He winked in a friendly way." "I like you jawing about discipline." said Mike morosely. silent natures. really. you stick it on. a word in your ear. rather rum when you think that a burglar would get it hot for breaking in. There are some things you simply can't do." "In passing. did he buttonhole you on your way to school. It doesn't matter who it is puts you down. and say. drew a deep breath. having observed its occupant thoughtfully for a moment." "I mean. If he's captain. that 'ere is.' Or did he lead up to it in any way? Did he say." "No. "And why. while I get dropped on if I break out." Wyatt leaned on the end of Mike's bed." "But you can't stick on side at house-fielding.' What had you been doing to him?" "It was the house-fielding. Most of his face was covered by the water-jug. my gentle che-ild." "Why?" "I don't know.

He would have perished rather than admit it. you'll see that there are two sorts of discipline at school. That was the match with Ripton. but it isn't done. and St. Wrykyn did not always win its other school matches. I thank you. A player is likely to show better form if he has got his colours than if his fate depends on what he does in that particular match. The public schools of England divide themselves naturally into little groups. for the first time in his life. Eton. but Wyatt's words had sunk in. which was the more impressive to him from his knowledge of his friend's contempt for. Besides which the members of the teams had had time to get into form. but it generally did. I don't know why. Ripton. Until you learn that. and by the end of the season it was easy to see which was entitled to first place. He saw and approved of Wyatt's point of view. rather. cheerful disregard of. he had distinctly made up his mind to give Mike his first eleven colours next day. Both at cricket and football Ripton was the school that mattered most. Mike went to sleep with a clear idea of what the public school spirit. Dulwich. This nearly always lay between Ripton and Wrykyn. held so rigid a respect for those that were unwritten. In this way. CHAPTER XX THE TEAM IS FILLED UP When Burgess. young Jackson. yet at the same time he could not help acknowledging to himself that the latter had had the right on his side. you can never hope to become the Perfect Wrykynian like. Spence which Bob Jackson had overheard. or." Mike made no reply. if possible. and Winchester are one group: Westminster and Charterhouse another: Bedford. There was no actual championship competition. would go down before Wilborough. At Wrykyn it was the custom to fill up the team. but each played each. Geddington. really meant. as far as games are concerned. About my breaking out. Secretaries of cricket at Ripton and Wrykyn always liked to arrange the date of the match towards the end of the term. of which so much is talked and written. Usually Wilborough and Geddington were left to scramble for the wooden spoon. He was still furious with Firby-Smith. When you're a white-haired old man like me. or Wrykyn." he concluded modestly. most forms of law and order. these last must be things which could not be treated lightly. Sometimes an exceptional Geddington team would sweep the board. before the Ripton match. having beaten Ripton. . accompanied the cricket-master across the field to the boarding-houses. One you can break if you feel like taking the risks. reckless though he was as regarded written school rules. "me. By July the weeding-out process had generally finished. and Wilborough formed a group. Harrow.saying--just so. There was only one more match to be played before the school fixture-list was finished. But this did not happen often. Haileybury. If Wyatt. Paul's are a third. so that they might take the field with representative and not experimental teams. That night. That moment marked a distinct epoch in his career. at the end of the conversation in the pavilion with Mr. Wrykyn. Tonbridge. His feelings were curiously mixed. the other you mustn't ever break.

Neville-Smith was not a great bowler. One gave him no trouble. From small causes great events do spring. And then there was only time to gather up his cap. and he had done well in the earlier matches. and held it. he went across to the Infirmary to Inquire about Marsh. In case of accident. Burgess felt safe when he bowled. Bob got to it with one hand. He could write it after tea. "Doctor Oakes thinks he will be back in school on Tuesday. He had fairly earned his place. If he could have pleased himself. His impetus carried him on almost to where Burgess was standing." said Burgess. The uncomfortable burden of the knowledge that he was about temporarily to sour Bob Jackson's life ceased for the moment to trouble him. To take the field against Ripton without Marsh would have been to court disaster. there was a week before the match. but he was steady. and he hated to have to do it. But. After all. and sprint. accordingly. And. had resolved to fill up the first eleven just a week before Ripton visited Wrykyn. and biz is biz. Spence had voted for Mike. Finally he had consulted Mr. The report was more than favourable." "Banzai!" said Burgess. Marsh had better not see any one just yet. Recollection of Bob's hard case was brought to him by the sight of that about-to-be-soured sportsman tearing across the ground in the middle distance in an effort to get to a high catch which Trevor had hit up to him. But the choice between Bob and Mike had kept him awake into the small hours two nights in succession. There were two vacancies. feeling that life was good. but he was certain to be out in time to play against Ripton. and kep' in a sepyrit jug. "Well held. he postponed the thing. as the poet has it. he would have kept Bob In. he let the moments go by till the sound on the bell startled him into movement. The paper on which he had intended to write the list and the pen he had laid out to write it with lay untouched on the table. Marsh's fielding alone was worth the money. and Burgess waited to see if he would bring it off. The temptation to allow sentiment to interfere with business might have become too strong if he had waited much longer.Burgess. He knew that it would be a wrench definitely excluding Bob from the team. The more he thought of it. as it was not his habit to put up notices except during the morning. engrossed in his book. It was a difficult catch. "Pleasure is pleasure. . As it was." The first duty of a captain is to have no friends. Burgess was glad the thing was settled. If Burgess had not picked up a particularly interesting novel after breakfast on the morning of Mike's interview with Firby-Smith in the study. the list would have gone up on the notice-board after prayers. * * * * * When school was over. He crooned extracts from musical comedy as he walked towards the nets. and Mr. the sorrier he was for him. With him at short slip. Spence.

"What's up?" inquired Burgess. He suppressed his personal feelings. of course. He felt as if he were playing some low trick on a pal. "You're hot stuff in the deep."Hullo. a sort of Captain Kettle on dry land. and became the cricket captain again. There are many kinds of walk. Firby-Smith. as who should say. What hard luck it was! There was he. It was the cricket captain who. towards the end of the evening. I was only telling him that there was going to be house-fielding to-morrow before breakfast." "Oh." "The frightful kid cut it this morning. A gruesome thought had flashed across his mind that the captain might think that this gallery-work was an organised advertisement. He was glad for the sake of the school. "This way for Iron Wills." said Bob. but one has one's personal ambitions. "Young Jackson. All he considered was that the story of his dealings with Mike showed him. There'll be worse trouble if he does it again." he explained. Mike's was the walk of the Overwrought Soul. came upon Firby-Smith and Mike parting at the conclusion of a conversation. it may be mentioned." said the Gazeka. on being told of Mike's slackness. "I couldn't get both hands to it. in the favourable and dashing character of the fellow-who-will-stand-no-nonsense. That Burgess would feel. dashing about in the sun to improve his fielding. not an ounce of malice in the head of Wain's house. How's Marsh?" "They wouldn't let me see him. in fact. Burgess passed on." "Didn't he like the idea?" "He's jolly well got to like it. He'll be able to play on Saturday. did not enter his mind." "I've just been to the Infirmary. and so he proceeded to tell . do you mean? Oh. Then the Jekyll and Hyde business completed itself." "Good." There was. That it had not been a friendly conversation would have been evident to the most casual observer from the manner in which Mike stumped off. To the fact that Mike and not himself was the eleventh cap he had become partially resigned: but he had wanted rather badly to play against Ripton. hoping he had said it as if he meant it." said Bob awkwardly. swinging his cricket-bag as if it were a weapon of offence. It was decidedly a blow. much as a bishop might feel if he heard that a favourite curate had become a Mahometan or a Mumbo-Jumboist. and all the time the team was filled up." "Easy when you're only practising. That by telling the captain of cricket that Mike had shirked fielding-practice he might injure the latter's prospects of a first eleven cap simply did not occur to him. nothing. his mind full of Bob once more. but it's all right.

Mike happened to be near the notice-board when he pinned it up. It was only the pleasure of seeing his name down in black-and-white that made him trouble to look at the list." "What's the matter now?" "Haven't you seen?" . Bob stared after him. and adds to it the reaction caused by this sudden unmasking of Mike. For the initial before the name Jackson was R. He felt that he had been deceived in Mike. and to cut practice struck him as a crime. There was no possibility of mistake. Bob. there had never been an R. one takes into consideration his private bias in favour of Bob. hurrying. it is not surprising that the list Burgess made out that night before he went to bed differed in an important respect from the one he had intended to write before school. Burgess parted with him with the firm conviction that Mike was a young slacker. than the one on that list. as he was rather late. "Hard luck!" said somebody. Bob. "Congratulate you. Keenness in fielding was a fetish with him. CHAPTER XXI MARJORY THE FRANK At the door of the senior block Burgess. that looked less like an M." he said. * * * * * When. Bob's news of the day before yesterday had made it clear how that list would run. The crowd that collected the moment Burgess had walked off carried him right up to the board. He looked at the paper. going in detail. He felt physically sick with the shock of the disappointment. "Congratulate you. As he stared. Trevor came out of the block. Mike scarcely heard him. therefore. Bob had beaten him on the tape. and passed on. met Bob coming in. Since writing was invented.

Not much in it. I showed you the last one. neither speaking. Trevor moved on." "No. it's jolly rummy. for next year." said Mike. "Congratulate you. you'll have three years in the first. No reason why he shouldn't. and Burgess agree with him. Bob snatched gladly at the subject. This was no place for him. Bob. didn't I? I've only just had time to skim through this one. and up the stairs that led to the Great Hall. "Jolly glad you've got it." "Thanks." Bob endeavoured to find consolation." "Well. putting an end to an uncomfortable situation. "Thanks awfully. feeling very ill. as the post was late. "Got a letter from mother this morning. I swear I heard Burgess say to Spence----" "He changed his mind probably." "My--what? you're rotting. "I believe there's a mistake." he said awkwardly. next year seems a very. while Mike seemed as if at any moment he might burst into tears. He caught sight of Bob and was passing with a feeble grin. When one has missed one's colours. if you want to read it. Bob's face was looking like a stuffed frog's. delicately. Go and look. very long way off. You've got your first." ."Seen what?" "Why the list. with such manifest lack of enthusiasm that Bob abandoned this line of argument. Had he dreamed that conversation between Spence and Burgess on the pavilion steps? Had he mixed up the names? He was certain that he had heard Spence give his verdict for Mike." "Hope so. "Anyhow. "Heard from home lately?" inquired Mike. when something told him that this was one of those occasions on which one has to show a Red Indian fortitude and stifle one's private feelings. and I only got it just as I was going to dash across to school. I'm not. Each was gratefully conscious of the fact that prayers would be beginning in another minute. You're a cert. which was Bob's way of trying to appear unconcerned and at his ease. Just then. came down the steps. It'll be something to do during Math. Spectators are not wanted at these awkward interviews. Here it is. Mike." said Bob. with equal awkwardness. There was a short silence." said Mike. They moved slowly through the cloisters." The thing seemed incredible.

As they went out on the gravel." said Mike amiably. These things are like kicks on the shin. He seemed to have something on his mind. and went up to the headmaster. for the first time in her life. in place of the blushful grin which custom demands from the man who is being congratulated on receipt of colours. pushed his way towards him through the crowd. Sure it isn't meant for me? She owes me a letter. seeing Mike. and then a dull pain of which we are not always conscious unless our attention is directed to it. too. * * * * * By a quarter to eleven Mike had begun to grow reconciled to his fate. When they had left the crowd behind. and." "After you.' Bob led the way across the gravel and on to the first terrace. The disappointment was still there. I'll give it you in the interval. "What's up?" asked Mike. Evidently something had happened to upset Bob seriously. seeing that the conversation was . "I want you to read----" "Jackson!" They both turned. but followed."Marjory wrote." The arrival of the headmaster put an end to the conversation. Bob appeared curiously agitated. somebody congratulated Bob again. Bob pushed the letter into Mike's hands. He looked round. there appeared on his face a worried." Mike resented the tone. with some surprise. A brief spell of agony. "Got that letter?" "Yes. The headmaster was standing on the edge of the gravel. "Read that. and Mike noticed. as it were. it's for me all right. He was doing this in a literal as well as in a figurative sense when Bob entered the school shop. that. Mike was." and. and again Bob hardly seemed to appreciate it." "Why not here?" "Come on. even an irritated look." he said. sitting up and taking nourishment. he stopped. When the bell rang for the interval that morning. "Hullo. and which in time disappears altogether. Mike heard the words "English Essay. but it was lessened. I'll show it you outside. Most of those present congratulated him as he passed." "No. Haven't had time to look at it yet.

S.apparently going to be one of some length. Most authors of sensational matter nurse their bomb-shell. it will be all through Mike.S. I told her it served her right. I've been reading a jolly good book called 'The Boys of Dormitory Two. and display it to the best advantage. but he goes to the headmaster and says he wants Jack to play instead of him. Joe made eighty-three against Lancashire. and went to his form-room wondering what Marjory could have found to say to Bob to touch him on the raw to such an extent. lead up to it. and had to write out 'Little Girls must be polite and obedient' a hundred times in French.' and the hero's an awfully nice boy named Lionel Tremayne. "DEAR BOB" (the letter ran). and Father said it was very sporting of Mike but nobody must tell you because it wouldn't be fair if you got your first for you to know that you owed it to Mike and I wasn't supposed to hear but I did because I was in the room only they didn't know I was (we were playing hide-and-seek and I was hiding) so I'm writing to tell you. and his friend Jack Langdale saves his life when a beast of a boatman who's really employed by Lionel's cousin who wants the money that Lionel's going to have when he grows up stuns him and leaves him on the beach to drown. Phyllis has a cold. No suspicion of the actual contents of the letter crossed his mind. Ella cheeked Mademoiselle yesterday. I am quite well." For the life of him Mike could not help giggling as he pictured what Bob's expression must have been when his brother read this document." There followed a P. but usually she entertained rather than upset people.--This has been a frightful fag to write. and exhibited it plainly to all whom it might concern. under the desk. He put the missive in his pocket. Have you got your first? If you have. Bob had had cause to look worried. "P. capped the headmaster and walked off. with a style of her own. But the humorous side of the thing did not appeal to him for long. Uncle John told Father that Mike pretended to hurt his wrist so that you could play instead of him for the school. What should he say to Bob? What would Bob say to him? Dash it all. it . Lionel is going to play for the school against Loamshire. He was just going to read the letter when the bell rang. and ceased to wonder. He read it during school. and it's _the_ match of the season. She was jolly sick about it. and let it take its chance with the other news-items. Why don't you do that? "M. She was a breezy correspondent. Marjory dropped hers into the body of the letter. For the thousand and first time in her career of crime Marjory had been and done it! With a strong hand she had shaken the cat out of the bag. There was a curious absence of construction about the letter.P. "I'll tell you what you ought to do.-"I hope you are quite well. Well. Reggie made a duck. "From your affectionate sister "Marjory.

. "Well?" said Bob. And Uncle John had behaved in many respects like the Complete Rotter. You wouldn't have if only that ass Uncle John hadn't let it out. No girl ought to be taught to write till she came of age. it's like giving a fellow money without consulting him. "Of course. and naturally he spotted right away there was nothing the matter with it. Girls oughtn't to meddle with these things. is it all rot.made him look such an awful _ass_! Anyhow. Besides. They met at the nets. apparently putting the finishing-touch to some train of thought. it was awfully decent----" Then again the monstrous nature of the affair came home to him." "How did he get to know? Why did you tell him?" "He got it out of me. I mean it was jolly good of you--Dash it all. and all that. or did you--you know what I mean--sham a crocked wrist?" "Yes. "I did." "I didn't think you'd ever know. So it came out. and would insist on having a look at my arm. I suppose I am. it was beastly awkward." said Mike.. that's how it was." "Well. He came down when you were away at Geddington. he might at least have whispered them. "How do you mean?" said Mike. "But what did you do it _for_? Why should you rot up your own chances to give me a look in?" "Oh." Bob stared gloomily at his toes. I don't know. If he was going to let out things like that. "I mean. or looked behind the curtains to see that the place wasn't chock-full of female kids." he broke off hotly. The team was filled up. You know. I couldn't choke him off." Bob scratched thoughtfully at the turf with a spike of his boot. In fact he didn't see that he could do anything. "Did you read it?" "Yes. "what did you want to do if _for_? What was the idea? What right have you got to go about playing Providence over me? Dash it all.. as if the putting his position into words had suddenly showed him how inglorious it was." . and Burgess was not likely to alter it. but she had put her foot right in it. But in a small community like a school it is impossible to avoid a man for ever. Confound Uncle John! Throughout the dinner-hour Mike kept out of Bob's way. you did _me_ a jolly good turn. why should he alter it? Probably he would have given Bob his colours anyhow. "I know I ought to be grateful. Still. Bob couldn't do much." he said at last. Marjory meant well.

When?" "That Firby-Smith business. simply to think no more about them. Are you going to the Old Man to ask him if I can play." CHAPTER XXII WYATT IS REMINDED OF AN ENGAGEMENT There are situations in life which are beyond one. well. Half a second." and goes to sleep in his arm-chair." He sidled off. admitting himself beaten. but it never does any good. "if I cannot compel circumstances to my will." "I'm hanged if it is. it's all over now. and happened to doze. who sat down on an acorn one day. like Lionel Tremayne?" The hopelessness of the situation came over Bob like a wave. "Anyhow. When affairs get into a real tangle." "What about it?" "Well. He thought he would go home. "I must see Burgess about it." said Bob to himself. anyhow. "I shall get in next year all right. He stared at him as if he were some strange creature hitherto unknown to the human race." Which he did. but. finding this impossible." Mike said. you got me out of a jolly bad hole. rot! And do you mean to tell me it was simply because of that----?" Mike appeared to him in a totally new light." added Mike. and had a not unpleasant time. . "Well. and slides out of such situations. You don't think I'm going to sit tight and take my first as if nothing had happened?" "What can you do? The list's up. I just want to speak to Wyatt about something. but the air was splendid and the view excellent." "Oh. Others try to grapple with them." he said. it is best to sit still and let them straighten themselves out. "so I don't see what's the point of talking about it. when he awoke. if one does not do that. sixty feet from the ground. I decide to remain here."I don't remember. he found himself sitting in the fork of an oak. I can at least adapt my will to circumstances. "Well. The sensible man realises this. One's attitude towards Life's Little Difficulties should be that of the gentleman in the fable. This is Philosophy. he altered his plans. Or. The oak lacked some of the comforts of home. He looked helplessly at Mike. "Besides. The warmth of his body caused the acorn to germinate. The true philosopher is the man who says "All right. and it grew so rapidly that. Mike shuffled uneasily beneath the scrutiny.

You simply keep on saying you're all right. I could easily fake up some excuse. but he had not the necessary amount of philosophy. consulted on the point. and here you _are_. but why should you do anything? You're all right. These things. what do you want me to do? Alter the list?" But for the thought of those unspeakable outsiders. Can't you see what a rotten position it is for me?" "Don't you worry. Very sporting of your brother and all that. if they are to be done at school. at the moment. and took the line of least resistance. of course. What's he got to grumble about?" "He's not grumbling. in council." . what's to be done?" "Why do anything?" Burgess was a philosopher. So that I'm a lot keen on putting the best team into the field." "What's the matter with you? Don't you want your first?" "Not like this. "But I must do something. Bob might have answered this question in the affirmative." Bob agreed. It would not be in the picture. Though. Bob should have done so. At which period he remarked a rum business. have to be carried through stealthily. It took Bob at least a quarter of an the facts of the case into the captain's head." "I do. might find some way of making things right for everybody. I don't see why I shouldn't stand out of the team for the Ripton match. Your brother stood out of the team to let you in it. but at last grasped the idea of the thing. It's not your fault. Sorry if it upsets your arrangements in any way. inability hour to get Burgess that it was "Very rum. "Still. in it. confessed to the same to solve the problem. but he could _not_ do the self-sacrificing young hero business. now it's up. Lionel Tremayne and his headmaster. Imitate this man. Tell you what.To-day's Great Thought for Young Readers. but the idea is rather to win the Ripton match. "I suppose you can't very well. He would have done a good deal to put matters right. like the man in the oak-tree. though. though I'm blowed if I'd have done it myself." said Bob. what you say doesn't help us out much. but he had the public-school boy's terror of seeming to pose or do anything theatrical. Besides. "Can't you see how rotten it is for me?" "I don't see why. if possible. And Burgess. He still clung to the idea that he and Burgess. after Mike's fashion. he did not see how eleven caps were to be divided amongst twelve candidates in such a way that each should have one. It's me. I don't know if it's occurred to you. seeing that the point is.

expansive grin. Wyatt had not seen his friend since the list of the team had been posted on the board. he discovered that inside the flannels was Neville-Smith's body and behind the grin the rest of Neville-Smith's face. You know what I was saying to you about the bust I meant . whatever happens. There won't be any changes from the team I've put up on the board. That slight smile of yours will meet behind. Not that you did. "Thanks. thanks for reminding me." said Burgess.." "I don't care. but a slack field wants skinning. and I happened to be talking to Firby-Smith and found that young Mike had been shirking his. and then the top of your head'll come off. "Slacker? What rot! He's as keen as anything." "What do you mean?" "Fielding. Their visit to the nets not having coincided in point of time. so he proceeded to congratulate him on his colours." "Oh. if you don't look out. He's a young slacker." "Anyhow. I've got my first. Little Willie's going to buy a nice new cap and a pretty striped jacket all for his own self! I say. all right. as the Greek exercise books say. with a brilliant display of front teeth. crossing the cricket-field towards the school shop in search of something fizzy that might correct a burning thirst acquired at the nets. so out he went." "Mind the step. I feel like--I don't know what. "I was afraid you mightn't be able to do anything. espied on the horizon a suit of cricket flannels surmounted by a huge."You know perfectly well Mike's every bit as good as me. * * * * * At about the time when this conversation was in progress." said Neville-Smith. Wyatt. So long." said Bob. I remember what it was I wanted to say to you. If you really want to know. and improved your fielding twenty per cent." When Burgess had once labelled a man as that. he did tell me. "Feeling good?" "Not the word for it. A bad field's bad enough. As the distance between them lessened. his keenness isn't enough to make him turn out for house-fielding. but supposing you had. he did not readily let the idea out of his mind. that's why you've got your first instead of him." "He isn't so keen." "I'll tell you what you look like." "Smith oughtn't to have told you. At any rate. You sweated away. if that's any good to you. So you see how it is." "Well.

" "How are you going to get out?" "'Stone walls do not a prison make." "The race is degenerating. if I did. can't you?" "Delighted." "Yes. Who did you ask?" "Clowes was one. I shall manage it." "They ought to allow you a latch-key. It'll be the only one lighted up. All the servants'll have gone to bed. You'll see the window of my room. which I have--well. for goodness sake." As Wyatt was turning away. Anything for a free feed in these hard times." "The school is going to the dogs. if you like." "You _will_ turn up." "Good man." "But one or two day-boys are coming. eleven'll do me all right. for one. I get on very well. It's just above the porch. I'm going to get the things now. Still. nor iron bars a have at home in honour of my getting my first. And Beverley." "So will the glass--with a run." "That's an aspect of the thing that might occur to some people. and I'll come down. Make it a bit earlier. Clephane is. now I come to think of it--what do I do? Ring the bell and send in my card? or smash the nearest window and climb in?" "Don't make too much row. And Henfrey backed out because he thought the risk of being sacked wasn't good enough. Heave a pebble at it. What time did you say it was?" "Eleven.' That's what the man said who wrote the libretto for the last set of Latin Verses we had to do. a sudden compunction seized upon . I expect. won't you?" "Nothing shall stop me. I don't blame him--I might feel like that myself if I'd got another couple of years at school. Who are coming besides me?" "No boarders. I'll try to do as little damage as possible. anyhow it's to-night. I needn't throw a brick. You can roll up." "When I get to your place--I don't believe I know the way. Still." "Said it wasn't good enough." "No. I've often thought of asking my pater for one. After all. Said he didn't want to miss his beauty-sleep. We shall have rather a rag. They all funked it.

" said Wyatt. I've used all mine." Mike could not help thinking that for himself it was the very reverse. APPLEBY "You may not know it. aren't you? I don't want to get you into a row. Push us over a pinch of that tooth-powder of yours. No expense has been spared. and I shall probably be so full of Malvoisie that you'll be able to hear it swishing about inside me. and a sardine is roasting whole in the market-place. They've no thought for people's convenience here.Neville-Smith. though. I should have gone out anyhow to-night." CHAPTER XXIII A SURPRISE FOR MR. "but this is the maddest. The kick-off is fixed for eleven sharp." "I shall do my little best not to be. All you have to do is to open the window and step out. I don't know if he keeps a dog." said Wyatt to Mike in the dormitory that night. If so. Now at Bradford they've got studies on the ground floor. There was one particular dustbin where one might be certain of flushing a covey any night. He called him back. that's all right. I've got to climb two garden walls." "Don't go getting caught. I am to stand underneath his window and heave bricks till something happens. you don't think it's too risky. you always are breaking out at night. Rather tricky work. "Neville-Smith's giving a meal at his place in honour of his getting his first." Wyatt very seldom penetrated further than his own garden on the occasions when he roamed abroad at night. Still. No catch steeple-chasing if you're like that. "What's up?" he asked. "I say. the windows looking out over the boundless prairie. The oldest cask of lemonade has been broached. getting back. and the wall by the . but he did not state his view of the case." "When are you going to start?" "About five minutes after Wain has been round the dormitories to see that all's well. For cat-shooting the Wain spinneys were unsurpassed. do you? I mean." "Are you going?" "If I can tear myself away from your delightful society. we must make the best of things." "Oh. I understand the preparations are on a scale of the utmost magnificence. I shall probably get bitten to the bone. Ginger-beer will flow like water. merriest day of all the glad New Year. That ought to be somewhere about half-past ten. No climbing or steeple-chasing needed at all. "Don't you worry about me.

and was in the lane within a minute. For a few moments he debated the rival claims of a stroll in the cricket-field and a seat in the garden. There he paused. He had his views as to what the ideal garden should be. "What a night!" he said to himself. which had suffered on the two walls. and spent what few moments he could spare from work and games pottering about it. He climbed down from the wall that ran beneath the dormitory window into the garden belonging to Mr. The little gate in the railings opposite his house might not be open. Then he decided on the latter. Half-past ten had just chimed from the school clock. and dropped from it into a small lane which ended in the main road leading to Wrykyn town. but the room had got hot and stuffy. This was the route which he took to-night. whatever you did to it. and a garden always had a beastly appearance in winter. and it was a long way round to the main entrance.potting-shed was a feline club-house. for instance. sniffing as he walked. Nothing like a little fresh air for putting him right. They were all dark. and the scent of the flowers came to him with a curious distinctness as he let himself down from the dormitory window. that a pipe in the open would make an excellent break in his night's work. the master who had the house next to Mr. Much better have flowers. It was a glorious July night. dusted his trousers. and get a decent show for one's money in . Appleby. He was in plenty of time. At present there remained much to be done. At any other time he might have made a lengthy halt. Crossing this. He had acquired a slight headache as the result of correcting a batch of examination papers. Why not. and enjoyed the scents and small summer noises. The window of his study was open. He was fond of his garden. So he took a deck-chair which leaned against the wall. From here he could see the long garden. and strolled meditatively in the direction of the town. whereas flowers died and left an empty brown bed in the winter. but now he felt that it would be better not to delay. Appleby. * * * * * Now it happened that he was not alone in admiring the beauty of that particular night. and where he stood he could be seen distinctly from the windows of both houses. looking out of his study into the moonlit school grounds. He dropped cautiously into Appleby's garden. and let himself out of the back door. At ten-fifteen it had struck Mr. There was a full moon. take away those laurels at the end of the lawn. But when he did wish to get out into the open country he had a special route which he always took. true. it is true. He took up his position in the shadow of a fir-tree with his back to the house. and he hoped in time to tinker his own three acres up to the desired standard. and have a flower-bed there instead? Laurels lasted all the year round. but then laurels were nothing much to look at at any time. ran lightly across it. but on these occasions it was best to take no risks. he climbed another wall. Wain's. and he thought that an interval of an hour in the open air before approaching the half-dozen or so papers which still remained to be looked at might do him good.

Appleby smoothed over the cavities. He went his way openly. There are times when a master must waive sentiment.summer at any rate. . wondering how he should act. however. Appleby that first awoke to action. Appleby had left his chair. at the end of which period he discovered that his pipe had gone out. He knew that there were times when a master might. He was just feeling for his matches to relight it when Wyatt dropped with a slight thud into his favourite herbaceous border. There was nothing unsporting about Mr. he would have done so. of course. and owes a duty directly to his headmaster. he had recognised him. and remember that he is in a position of trust. examining. In four strides he was on the scene of the outrage. That was the simple way out of the difficulty. With a sigh of relief Mr. Sentiment. He always played the game. Mr. It was not an easy question. treat it as if it had never happened. liked and respected by boys and masters. Appleby. but he may use his discretion. it was the fact that the boy had broken out _via_ his herbaceous border. The surprise. The difficulty here was to say exactly what the game was. bade him forget the episode. and the agony of feeling that large boots were trampling among his treasures kept him transfixed for just the length of time necessary for Wyatt to cross the garden and climb the opposite wall. but the sound was too slight to reach Wyatt. without blame. Appleby recovered himself sufficiently to emit a sort of strangled croak. through the headmaster. There was no doubt in his mind as to the identity of the intruder. The problem of the bed at the end of the lawn occupied his complete attention for more than a quarter of an hour. and rose to his feet. As he dropped into the lane. By a happy accident Wyatt's boots had gone home to right and left of precious plants but not on them. with the aid of the moonlight. As far as he could see. on hands and knees. close his eyes or look the other way. That reveller was walking down the Wrykyn road before Mr. and. he should resign in favour of some one of tougher fibre. It is an interesting point that it was the gardener rather than the schoolmaster in Mr. if he feels that sentiment is too strong for him. Breaking out at night. He receives a salary for doing this duty. In that startled moment when Wyatt had suddenly crossed his line of vision. A master must check it if it occurs too frequently. It was not the idea of a boy breaking out of his house at night that occurred to him first as particularly heinous. It was on another plane. The moon had shone full on his face as he left the flowerbed. There was nothing of the spy about Mr. it was not serious. to the parents. If he had met Wyatt out of bounds in the day-time. the extent of the damage done. To be out of bounds is not a particularly deadly sin. and indirectly. was a different thing altogether. At this point it began to strike him that the episode affected him as a schoolmaster also. and it had been possible to convey the impression that he had not seen him. Appleby. He paused.

"Can I have a word with you. having a pipe before finishing the rest of my papers. greatly to Mr. but they would have to wait. instead of through the agency of the headmaster." "James!" "I was sitting in my garden a few minutes ago. only it's something important. shall I? No need to unlock the door. I'm afraid. in the middle of which stood Mr. "Wouldn't have disturbed you. Mr. Wain. In ordinary circumstances it would have been his duty to report the affair to the headmaster but in the present case he thought that a slightly different course might be pursued. I'll climb in through here. Appleby. The thing still rankled. Appleby came over his relighted pipe. Mr. Wain?" he said. Wain's surprise and rather to his disapproval. About Wyatt. if you don't mind. He tapped on the window. He could not let the matter rest where it was. he folded his deck-chair and went into the house. and he had a view of a room littered with books and papers. It was one of the few cases where it was possible for an assistant master to fulfil his duty to a parent directly. Appleby." Mr. and squeezed through into the room. Appleby could not help feeling how like Wain it was to work on a warm summer's night in a hermetically sealed room. and the sound of a chair being pushed back told him that he had been heard. Mr. like a sea-beast among rocks. There was always something queer and eccentric about Wyatt's step-father. Exceedingly so. He turned down his lamp. "Appleby! Is there anything the matter? I was startled when you tapped. and Wyatt dropped from the wall on to my herbaceous border. CHAPTER XXIV CAUGHT "Got some rather bad news for you.This was the conclusion to which Mr. "I'll smoke. Appleby vaulted on to the window-sill." And. Wain recognised his visitor and opened the window. and walked round to Wain's. * * * * * Knocking out the ashes of his pipe against a tree. Wain." said Mr. He would lay the whole thing before Mr." began Mr." "Sorry. Appleby said this with a tinge of bitterness. The examination papers were spread invitingly on the table. . There was a light in one of the ground-floor windows. and leave him to deal with it as he thought best. The blind shot up.

He hoped . Appleby. Sorry to have disturbed you. and have it out with him. You are not going?" "Must. I should strongly advise you to deal with the thing yourself. things might not be so bad for Wyatt after all. Appleby offered no suggestion. Exceedingly so. then." "He's not there now. and. "A good deal. Why. Good-night. I don't see why you should drag in the master at all here. He was wondering what would happen." "Good-night." "I will. Appleby." said Mr. this is most extraordinary. You are quite right. "What shall I do?" Mr. it is not a quarter of an hour since I left him in his dormitory. He would have no choice. You can deal with the thing directly. You're the parent."James! In your garden! Impossible. Wain drummed on the table with his fingers. Wain on reflection. Appleby. Gaping astonishment is always apt to be irritating. He plays substitute for the parent in his absence." "Possibly. "I ought to report it to the headmaster. He had taken the only possible course." Mr." "So was I. If you come to think of it. Appleby. It's like daylight out of doors. Tackle the boy when he comes in." "I don't see why. if only Wain kept his head and did not let the matter get through officially to the headmaster. You are certain it was James?" "Perfectly. It isn't like an ordinary case." "How is such a thing possible? His window is heavily barred. Got a pile of examination papers to look over. That is a very good idea of yours." "Bars can be removed. "Let's leave it at that." said Mr. Dear me." "No. Everybody who has ever broken out of his house here and been caught has been expelled. Remember that it must mean expulsion if you report him to the headmaster." "You must have been mistaken. a little nettled." "You astound me. sit down." Mr. Yes. a headmaster's only a sort of middleman between boys and parents. That is certainly the course I should pursue. Appleby made his way out of the window and through the gate into his own territory in a pensive frame of mind." "There is certainly something in what you say. I am astonished.

It was not all roses.. If he had gone out. he reflected wrathfully. Could Appleby have been dreaming? Something of the kind might easily have happened. He grunted. He took a candle. from the moment when the threads of their lives became entangled. they had kept out of each other's way as much as possible.. But there had never been anything even remotely approaching friendship between them. He liked Wyatt. and the night was warm. pondering over the news he had heard.they would not. Lately. he would hardly have returned yet. Arrived at his step-son's dormitory. the life of an assistant master at a public school. and then consider the episode closed. Nor did he easily grow fond of others. asleep. Appleby had been right. he turned the door-handle softly and went in. If further proof had been needed. He doubted whether Wain would have the common sense to do this. What would Wain do? What would _he_ do in a similar case? It was difficult to say. . and turned over with his face to the wall as the light shone on his eyes. but apparently on the verge of dropping off. And the bars across the window had looked so solid. if he were to be expelled. He blew the candle out. Mr. Even now he clung to the idea that Appleby had made some extraordinary mistake. He had continually to be sinking his own individual sympathies in the claims of his duty. He had been working hard. it was true. Wyatt he had regarded. The house-master sat down quietly on the vacant bed. one of the bars was missing from the window. Gradually he began to convince himself of this. Wain was not a man who inspired affection readily. Probably talk violently for as long as he could keep it up. Mike was there. Altogether it was very painful and disturbing. It was not.. For years he and Wyatt had lived in a state of armed neutrality. so much as an exasperated. But he was the last man to shirk the duty of reporting him. This breaking-out.. and waited there in the semi-darkness. broken by various small encounters. The light of the candle fell on both beds. But the other bed was empty. The moon shone in through the empty space. a sorrowful. therefore. and he was taking a rather gloomy view of the assistant master's lot as he sat down to finish off the rest of his examination papers. Appleby was the last man who would willingly have reported a boy for enjoying a midnight ramble. vigil that he kept in the dormitory. and it had become rare for the house-master to have to find fault officially with his step-son. least of all in those many years younger than himself. as a complete nuisance. He was the house-master about to deal with a mutineer. by silent but mutual agreement. Mr. thinking.. He had seen Wyatt actually in bed a quarter of an hour before--not asleep. and nothing else.. Then it occurred to him that he could easily prove or disprove the truth of his colleague's statement by going to the dormitory and seeing if Wyatt were there or not. Mr. and walked quietly upstairs. was the last straw. There was nothing of the sorrowing father about his frame of mind. Wain sat on for some minutes after his companion had left. merely because it was one decidedly not to his taste. It would be a thousand pities. he felt.

But he should leave. His mind went back to the night when he had saved Wyatt by a brilliant _coup_. returning from the revels at Neville-Smith's! And what could he do? Nothing. Absolutely and entirely the game was up. The discipline of the bank would be salutary and steadying. Wain. and was beginning to feel a little cramped. immediately. He lay down again without a word. is that you. Wain had arrived at this conclusion. Wyatt dusted his knees. "Hullo!" said Mike. and the letter should go by the first post next day. when Mike Jackson suddenly sat up. but he had never before experienced that sensation of something hot and dry springing in the throat. Mike had often heard and read of people's hearts leaping to their mouths. "James!" said Mr. Mike could not help thinking what a perfect night it must be for him to be able to hear the strokes so plainly." snapped the house-master. what would be the effect of such a sight on Wyatt. The most brilliant of _coups_ could effect nothing now. He would write to the bank before he went to bed. father!" he said pleasantly. His voice sounded ominously hollow. Mike saw him start. Jackson. A sickening feeling that the game was up beyond all hope of salvation came to him. What a frightful thing to happen! How on earth had this come about? What in the world had brought Wain to the dormitory at that hour? Poor old Wyatt! If it had upset _him_ (Mike) to see the house-master in the room. but could hear nothing. * * * * * Every minute that passed seemed like an hour to Mike. Mr. broken every now and then by the creak of the other bed. Wain relit his candle. . as the house-master shifted his position. It was with a comfortable feeling of magnanimity that he resolved not to report the breach of discipline to the headmaster. Dead silence reigned in the dormitory. He strained his ears for any indication of Wyatt's approach. "Go to sleep. and rubbed his hands together. Then a very faint scraping noise broke the stillness. In a calm and leisurely manner he climbed into the room. Wyatt should not be expelled. The time had come to put an end to it. There was literally no way out. Then he seemed to recover himself. The unexpected glare took Wyatt momentarily aback. and presently the patch of moonlight on the floor was darkened. and that immediately. which is what really happens to us on receipt of a bad shock. "Hullo. And--this was a particularly grateful reflection--a fortnight annually was the limit of the holiday allowed by the management to its junior employees. asking them to receive his step-son at once. Twelve boomed across the field from the school clock.Wyatt's presence had been a nervous inconvenience to him for years. At that moment Mr.

" "What'll he do. my little Hyacinth. Suppose I'd better go down. "It's all right. He flung himself down on his bed. Follow me there. What'll happen?" "That's for him to decide. "Yes. what'll happen?" Wyatt sat up. holding his breath. "I say. lying in bed. completely thrown off his balance by the events of the night. but I'm afraid it's a case of 'Au revoir. what!" "But." "Yes. Wyatt!" said Mike. rolling with laughter. sir. The swift and sudden boot. "That reminds me. really. do you think?" "Ah. now. speaking with difficulty." said Wyatt. I should say----" "You don't think----?" "The boot. About an hour." said Wyatt. I suppose. Exceedingly astonished. Then Mr. "I shall talk to you in my study. I say. Me sweating to get in quietly. To Mike. Wain spoke.' We . it's awful. Speaking at a venture. how long had he been sitting there?" "It seemed hours." "I got a bit of a start myself. Mike began to get alarmed. As a matter of fact it lasted for perhaps ten seconds. it seemed a long silence. Wyatt continued to giggle helplessly. "But." He left the room. and all the time him camping out on my bed!" "But look here." "It's the funniest thing I've ever struck. I shall be sorry to part with you. I say. "I am astonished. and Wyatt suddenly began to chuckle." said Wyatt at last. James?" It is curious how in the more dramatic moments of life the inane remark is the first that comes to us. "You have been out. sir.CHAPTER XXV MARCHING ORDERS A silence followed.

"It slipped. Years hence a white-haired bank-clerk will tap at your door when you're a prosperous professional cricketer with your photograph in _Wisden_. Don't go to sleep." "What?" "Yes. Mr. Where are me slippers? Ha. out of the house. sir. "Well." "And. sir. This is my Moscow. 'tis well! Lead on. and began to tap the table. I follow. Wain jumped nervously. "Well?" "I haven't one." * * * * * In the study Mr." Wyatt nodded agreement with this view. are you in the habit of violating the strictest school rules by absenting yourself from the house during the night?" "Yes. "Only my slipper. at that hour?" "I went for a walk. Wain was fumbling restlessly with his papers when Wyatt appeared. One of his slippers fell off with a clatter. sir. James.shall meet at Philippi. To-morrow I shall go out into the night with one long. then. minions." "I'll tell you all the latest news when I come back. "Exceedingly. may I inquire." "This is an exceedingly serious matter. "I should be glad to hear your explanation of this disgraceful matter. Wyatt sat down." "The fact is----" said Wyatt. sir." "What were you doing out of your dormitory." The pen rose and fell with the rapidity of the cylinder of a . James?" Wyatt said nothing." he said. I suppose I'd better go down. We'd better all get to bed _some_ time to-night." "Not likely. That'll be me. Well." Mr. choking sob." explained Wyatt. "Sit down. Wain took up a pen.

father. to see this attitude in you. Only it _was_ sending me off. watching it." Mr. "It is expulsion. You have repeatedly proved yourself lacking in ballast and a respect for discipline in smaller ways. I mean." Wyatt nodded. sir. It's sending me to sleep. James. I have already secured a nomination for you in the London and Oriental Bank. It is not fitting." "James!" "It's like a woodpecker. became suddenly aware that the thing was hypnotising him. "I must ask you not to interrupt me when I am speaking to you. Have you anything to say?" Wyatt reflected. James. "that I shall treat you exactly as I should treat any other member of my house whom I had detected in the same misdemeanour. You will not go to school to-morrow. Exceedingly so. In a minute or two he would be asleep. I say that your punishment will be no whit less severe than would be that of any other boy. I shall arrange with the headmaster that you are withdrawn privately----" "_Not_ the sack?" "Withdrawn privately." "Of course. exceedingly. Do you understand? That is all. Wain suspended tapping operations. ." "Studied impertinence----" "I'm very sorry." continued Mr. You must leave the school. they only gain an extra fortnight of me. even were I disposed to do so. ignoring the interruption. I shall write to-morrow to the manager asking him to receive you at once----" "After all. Wain." said Wyatt laconically." said Wyatt. "As you know. It is impossible for me to overlook it. You are aware of the penalty for such an action as yours?" "The sack. Wyatt. "I am sorry. Tap like that. It is in keeping with your behaviour throughout. and resumed the thread of his discourse. "I wish you wouldn't do that. At once. It is possible that you imagine that the peculiar circumstances of our relationship secure you from the penalties to which the ordinary boy----" "No." "You will leave directly I receive his letter." "I need hardly say. but this is a far more serious matter. Your conduct has been lax and reckless in the extreme.motor-car. approvingly.

father. as an actual spectator of the drama. I don't think----" His eye fell on a tray bearing a decanter and a syphon." "What? When?" "He's left already. I shoot off almost immediately. Burgess came up. . or some rot. By the quarter to eleven interval next day the facts concerning Wyatt and Mr." Burgess's first thought. was for his team. "What happened?" "We chatted. Mike. Wain were public property. he's got to leave. So why worry?" Mike was still silent. The reflection was doubtless philosophic. CHAPTER XXVI THE AFTERMATH Bad news spreads quickly. yes. his eyes rolling in a fine frenzy." he said. "Oh. all amongst the ink and ledgers." [Illustration: "WHAT'S ALL THIS ABOUT JIMMY WYATT?"] "So he has--at least. "It would have happened anyhow in another fortnight. To-morrow I take a well-earned rest away from school. "Buck up. "Anybody seen young--oh. was in great request as an informant." "Has he let you off?" "Like a gun. As he told the story to a group of sympathisers outside the school shop. here you are." said Wyatt cheerfully. but it failed to comfort him. Wyatt kicked off his slippers. as befitted a good cricket captain." Mike was miserably silent. "Can't I mix you a whisky and soda. What's all this about Jimmy Wyatt? They're saying he's been sacked."No. before I go off to bed?" * * * * * "Well?" said Mike. and began to undress. and the day after I become the gay young bank-clerk. He isn't coming to school again.

Hope he does. Mike!" said Bob." They separated in the direction of their respective form-rooms. the cricket captain wrote a letter to Wyatt during preparation that night which would have satisfied even Mike's sense of what was fit. during the night. I expect. The school was not so much regretful as comfortably thrilled. Wyatt was his best friend." "I should like to say good-bye. his pal. with a return to the austere manner of the captain of cricket. only it's awful rot for a chap like Wyatt to have to go and froust in a bank for the rest of his life. Mike felt resentful towards Burgess. You know. last night after Neville-Smith's. They met in the cloisters. I suppose you won't be seeing him before he goes?" "I shouldn't think so. however. The Wyatt disaster was too recent for him to feel much pleasure at playing against Ripton _vice_ his friend. But Mike had no opportunity of learning this. "I say. young Jackson. Not unless he comes to the dorm." agreed Mike. "he might have chucked playing the goat till after the Ripton match." "All right. what's all this about Wyatt?" "Wain caught him getting back into the dorm." said Mike. But I don't suppose it'll be possible. one exception to the general rule. you see. though!" he added after a pause. "Hullo. and he's taken him away from the school. but the chief sensation seemed to be one of pleasurable excitement at the fact that something big had happened to break the monotony of school routine. Mike felt bitter and disappointed at the way the news had been received. And Burgess had actually cursed before sympathising. "Dash the man! Silly ass! What did he want to do it for! Poor old Jimmy. but I shouldn't be surprised if he nipped out after Wain has gone to bed." continued Burgess."And the Ripton match on Saturday!" Nobody seemed to have anything except silent sympathy at his command. and it offended him that the school should take the tidings of his departure as they had done. you'll turn out for fielding with the first this afternoon. There was. one member of the school who did not treat the episode as if it were merely an . As a matter of fact. You'll play on Saturday. that's the part he bars most. He'd have been leaving anyhow in a fortnight." "He'll find it rather a change. They treated the thing much as they would have treated the announcement that a record score had been made in first-class cricket. Most of them who had come to him for information had expressed a sort of sympathy with the absent hero of his story. He's sleeping over in Wain's part of the house. anyway. "What rot for him!" "Beastly. "All the same. Bob was the next to interview him. without enthusiasm. withdrawn." "What's he going to do? Going into that bank straight away?" "Yes. Look here.

he'd probably have gone out somewhere else. going over to the nets rather late in the afternoon. when the bell rang for the end of morning school. Only our first. The result of which meditation was that Burgess got a second shock before the day was out. "It was all my fault. we shall play Ripton on Saturday with a sort of second eleven." . "Nothing much. plunged in meditation. It was a melancholy pleasure to have found a listener who heard the tale in the right spirit.interesting and impersonal item of sensational news. "What happened?" Mike related the story for the sixteenth time. where Mike left him. Bob. as far as I can see." he said at length. Neville-Smith heard of what had happened towards the end of the interval. "Only that. this wouldn't have happened. Well. He was silent for a moment after Mike had finished." said Burgess. what's he been doing?" "Apparently he gave a sort of supper to celebrate his getting his first. What rot! Sort of thing that might have happened to any one. is this true about old Wyatt?" Mike nodded. What a fool I was to ask him to my place! I might have known he would be caught. I'm blowed if Neville-Smith doesn't toddle off to the Old Man after school to-day and tell him the whole yarn! Said it was all his fault. They walked on without further Wain's gate." "Oh. You don't happen to have got sacked or anything. If Wyatt hadn't gone to him. "What's up?" asked Bob. so he waited for him at half-past twelve. by the way." "Neville-Smith! Why. and we shall take the field on Saturday with a scratch side of kids from the Junior School. with a forced and grisly calm. He did not attempt conversation till they reached Neville-Smith proceeded on his of soothing Neville-Smith's wounded it. I don't know. and rushed off instantly in search of Mike. He was too late to catch him before he went to his form-room. way. Jackson. "It was absolutely my fault. There was no doubt about Neville-Smith's interest and sympathy. In extra on Saturday. I suppose by to-morrow half the others'll have gone. "I say.and second-change bowlers out of the team for the Ripton match in one day. do you?" "What's happened now?" "Neville-Smith. That's all. and it was while coming back from that that Wyatt got collared. came upon the captain of cricket standing apart from his fellow men with an expression on his face that spoke of mental upheavals on a vast scale." Mike was not equal to the task conscience. "If it hadn't been for me." said Mike.

he had a partner. Jackson senior was a useful man to have about if you wanted a job in that Eldorado. Stronger than the one we drew with. where countless sheep lived and had their being. The reflection that he had done all that could be done tended to console him for the non-appearance of Wyatt either that night or next morning--a non-appearance which was due to the simple fact that he passed that night in a bed in Mr. from all accounts." "What's that?" "A way of getting him out of that bank. I'll write to father to-night. three years ago. So Mr. who believed in taking no chances. What's the idea?" "Why shouldn't he get a job of sorts out in the Argentine? There ought to be heaps of sound jobs going there for a chap like Wyatt.C. Spenlow." "Are Ripton strong this year?" asked Bob. to start with. All these things seemed to show that Mr. Jackson had returned to the home of his fathers. as most other boys of his age would have been. He must be able to work it. he'd jump at anything. who asked nothing better than to be left in charge." said Bob. that's to say. I shouldn't wonder if it wasn't rather a score to be able to shoot out there. Jolly hot team of M. Mike's father owned vast tracts of land up country. It's about Wyatt. Mike was just putting on his pads. I've thought of something." "By Jove.C. Bob went on his way to the nets."And the Old Man shoved him in extra?" "Next two Saturdays. If it comes off. They whacked the M. and Mike was going to the fountain-head of things when he wrote to his father that night. I should think. "I say. a stout fellow with the work-taint highly developed. made. well. Wain's dressing-room. He had long retired from active superintendence of his estate. or was being.C. Like Mr. But he still had a decided voice in the ordering of affairs on the ranches. presumably on business.C. his father had gone over there for a visit. did he?" Mike. And he can ride. you never know what's going to happen at cricket. He only knew vaguely that the source of revenue had something to do with the Argentine. His brother Joe had been born in Buenos Ayres. "I wanted to see you. . the door of which that cautious pedagogue. Mike. I may hold a catch for a change. putting forward Wyatt's claims to attention and ability to perform any sort of job with which he might be presented. As a matter of fact." "Oh. the Argentine Republic. He never chucked the show altogether. "Very. He's a jolly good shot. glad to be there again. was profoundly ignorant as to the details by which his father's money had been. I know. and once. for lack of anything better to say. too." Burgess grunted." "By Jove.

He had first had a brief conversation with the manager." After which a Mr. He said that he hoped something could be managed. In any case he would buy him a lunch. sir. Sportsman?" "Yes. sir. These letters he would then stamp. sir. Mr. there was no reason why something should not be done for him.." His advent had apparently caused little sensation. sir. Blenkinsop had led him up to a vast ledger. but that. Racquets?" "Yes. in which he was to inscribe the addresses of all out-going letters." "Everything?" "Yes. by a Beginner. Jackson's letter was short. He said he would go and see Wyatt early in the next week. but to the point. you won't get any more of it now. Wyatt?" "Yes. A letter from Wyatt also lay on his plate when he came down to breakfast. sir." "Cricketer?" "Yes." "H'm . CHAPTER XXVII THE RIPTON MATCH Mike got an answer from his father on the morning of the Ripton match.." "Play football?" "Yes. Well.locked from the outside on retiring to rest. He added that being expelled from a public school was not the only qualification for success as a sheep-farmer. Wyatt's letter was longer. if Mike's friend added to this a general intelligence and amiability. which had run as follows: "Mr." "H'm . sir." "H'm . so that Wyatt would extract at least some profit from his visit. and a skill for picking off cats with an air-pistol and bull's-eyes with a Lee-Enfield... It might have been published under the title "My First Day in a Bank. It was a pity that a boy accustomed to shoot cats should be condemned for the rest of his life to shoot nothing more exciting than his cuffs... and subsequently take in bundles to the .

Burgess. champion catch-as-catch-can stamp-stealer of the British Isles." * * * * * This had occurred to Mike independently. "Who will go on first with you. I suppose you are playing against Ripton. I suppose." wrote Wyatt. sir. "If I were one of those Napoleons of Finance. because one chap left at half-term and the man who played instead of him came off against Ripton. Mind you make a century. would be as useless as not playing at all. During the Friday rain had fallen almost incessantly in a steady drizzle.' which is a sort of start. this. It had stopped late at night.C. Wyatt. The Ripton match was a special event. and at six in the morning there was every prospect of another hot day. when the match was timed to begin. if I were you. The sky was a dull grey at breakfast time. If he could only make a century! or even fifty. "I should win the toss to-day. Spence. It was a day on which to win the toss. inspecting the wicket with Mr. "Or even Wyatt. Look out for an article in the _Wrykynian_. Runs would come easily till the sun came out and began to dry the ground. if it got the school out of a tight place." "I wish we _had_ Rhodes." said Mr. There were twelve colours given three years ago. "Just what I was thinking. if the sun comes out. He was as nervous on the Saturday morning as he had been on the morning of the M. and the man who performed any outstanding feat against that school was treated as a sort of Horatius." "That wicket's going to get nasty after lunch. Burgess?" .' So long. To do only averagely well. Even twenty. Spence. It would just suit him. to be among the ruck. except where a flush of deeper colour gave a hint of the sun. and go in first. "I should cook the accounts. I have stamped this letter at the expense of the office. When that happened there would be trouble for the side that was batting. At eleven-thirty." said Burgess. Honours were heaped upon him. I'm afraid I wasn't cut out for a business career. as a member of the staff. was not slow to recognise this fact. Still. by J. Spence during the quarter to eleven interval. and entered it up under the heading 'Sundries.C. now that the world of commerce has found that it can't get on without me. the wicket would be too wet to be difficult. Once a week he would be required to buy stamps. 'Hints for Young Criminals. Burgess. and then perhaps Burgess'll give you your first after office. so he diverted the conversation on to the subject of the general aspect of the school's attack." Mr. But it doesn't seem in my line. as far as his chance of his first was concerned. It was Victory or Westminster Abbey now. and embezzle stamps to an incredible amount. It was evident to those who woke early on the Saturday morning that this Ripton match was not likely to end in a draw. There was that feeling in the air which shows that the sun is trying to get through the clouds. A regular Rhodes wicket it's going to be. was not going to be drawn into discussing Wyatt and his premature departure. match.

we sha'n't have long to wait for our knock. He said that on a true wicket there was not a great deal of sting in their bowling. Plays racquets for them too. "but I think we'll toss. though I'm afraid you'll have a poor time bowling fast to-day. above all." * * * * * Burgess and Maclaine. though." "Tails it is. the Ripton captain. I must tell the fellows to look out for it. well." said Burgess." "I don't think a lot of that. so I was bound to win to-day. On a pitch that suited him he was apt to turn from leg and get people out caught at the wicket or short slip. They had been at the same private school. On a dry. as they met on the pavilion steps after they had changed. And. He was crocked when they came here. hard wicket I'm certain we should beat them four times out of six. It's a hobby of mine. I suppose?" "Yes--after us." "Oh. "It's awfully good of you to suggest it. This end. my friend said he had one very dangerous ball. it might have been all right. Looks as if it were going away. If he'd had a chance of getting a bit of practice yesterday." "You'll put us in. sir? Ellerby? It might be his wicket. Mac. that's a . Ellerby. "One consolation is. that that sort of ball is easier to watch on a slow wicket. of the Bosanquet type. I think. and they had played against one another at football and cricket for two years now." "I know the chap. I believe." "Heads. and comes in instead. Marsh will probably be dead out of form after being in the Infirmary so long." said Burgess." said Burgess ruefully. I was talking to a man who played against them for the Nomads. about our batting." "I must win the toss. "Certainly. "It's a nuisance too. Even with plenty of sawdust I doubt if it will be possible to get a decent foothold till after lunch." "I should. He wasn't in the team last year. I don't know of him." "That rain will have a lot to answer for if we lose. He played wing three for them at footer against us this year on their ground. win the toss." Ellerby bowled medium inclining to slow. "We'll go in first. were old acquaintances. A boy called de Freece. I've lost the toss five times running. I ought to have warned you that you hadn't a chance. He's a pretty useful chap all round."Who do you think." "Well." said Maclaine. but that they've got a slow leg-break man who might be dangerous on a day like this. The other's yours. You call.

Grant bowled what were supposed to be slow leg-breaks. to make Ripton feel that the advantage was with them. who relied on a run that was a series of tiger-like leaps culminating in a spring that suggested that he meant to lower the long jump record. Another hour of play remained before lunch. The change worked. But the rot stopped with the fall of that wicket. held it. At this rate Ripton would be out before lunch for under a hundred. Then . but which did not always break. This policy sometimes leads to a boundary or two. So Ripton went in to hit. Burgess. Burgess began to look happier. At thirty-five the first wicket fell. They meant to force the game. His contentment increased when he got the next man leg-before-wicket with the total unaltered. but after that hour singles would be as valuable as threes and boundaries an almost unheard-of luxury. as he would want the field paved with it. Already the sun was beginning to peep through the haze. Dashing tactics were laid aside. and Bob. seventy-four for three wickets. and the pair now in settled down to watch the ball. found himself badly handicapped by the state of the ground. In spite of frequent libations of sawdust. as it did on this occasion. he was compelled to tread cautiously. scoring slowly and jerkily till the hands of the clock stood at half-past one. The score mounted rapidly. for whom constant practice had robbed this sort of catch of its terrors.comfort. For about an hour run-getting ought to be a tolerably simple process. which was now shining brightly. The pitch had begun to play tricks. The deterioration of the wicket would be slow during that period. as also happened now. skied the third to Bob Jackson in the deep. and this robbed his bowling of much of its pace. but it means that wickets will fall. Maclaine. and was certain to get worse. and let's get at you. * * * * * The policy of the Ripton team was obvious from the first over. They plodded on. Buck up and send some one in. A yorker from Burgess disposed of the next man before he could settle down. would put in its deadliest work from two o'clock onwards. Maclaine's instructions to his men were to go on hitting. was large enough in view of the fact that the pitch was already becoming more difficult. At sixty Ellerby." And Burgess went off to tell the ground-man to have plenty of sawdust ready. Twenty came in ten minutes. after hitting the first two balls to the boundary. run out. who had found the pitch too soft for him and had been expensive. as it generally does. There is a certain type of school batsman who considers that to force the game means to swipe blindly at every ball on the chance of taking it half-volley. The policy proved successful for a time. The sun. A too liberal interpretation of the meaning of the verb "to hit" led to the departure of two more Riptonians in the course of the next two overs. Seventy-four for three became eighty-six for five. but the score. gave place to Grant.

A hundred and twenty had gone up on the board at the beginning of the over. His record score. and his one hit. and snicked the third for three over long-slip's head. And when he bowled a straight ball. and a four bye sent up a hundred and sixty. came off with distressing frequency. If the last man insists on keeping them out in the field. a semicircular stroke. Every run was invaluable now. beat the less steady of the pair with a ball that pitched on the middle stump and shot into the base of the off. for the last ten minutes. who had gone on again instead of Grant. The last man had just gone to the wickets. He seemed to be a batsman with only one hit. What made it especially irritating now was the knowledge that a straight yorker would solve the whole thing. and de Freece proceeded to treat Ellerby's bowling with equal familiarity. did what Burgess had failed to do. missed his second. and Wrykyn had plenty of opportunity of seeing that that was his normal expression when at the wickets. and the Ripton contingent made the pavilion re-echo as a fluky shot over mid-on's head sent up the hundred and fifty. when a quarter to two arrived. The scoring-board showed an increase of twenty as the result of three overs.Ellerby. So far it was anybody's game. and it will be their turn to bat. which suggested the golf links rather than the cricket field. He was apparently a young gentleman wholly free from the curse of nervousness. who had been missing the stumps by fractions of an inch. and with it the luncheon interval. found his leg-stump knocked back. Just a ball or two to the last man. It resembles in its effect the dragging-out of a book or play after the _dénouement_ has been reached. it was not a yorker. He mowed Burgess's first ball to the square-leg boundary. the slow bowler. There are few things more exasperating to the fielding side than a last-wicket stand. with the score at a hundred and thirty-one. A four and a three to de Freece. The other batsman played out the over. they resent it. as they walked . when Ellerby. It was beginning to look as if this might go on for ever. That period which is always so dangerous. There is often a certain looseness about the attack after lunch. At the fall of the ninth wicket the fieldsmen nearly always look on their outing as finished. But when Burgess bowled a yorker. He bowled a straight. and the bowler of googlies took advantage of it now. CHAPTER XXVIII MIKE WINS HOME The Ripton last-wicket man was de Freece. and de Freece. medium-paced yorker. when the wicket is bad. He had made twenty-eight. he explained to Mike. swiping at it with a bright smile. but he had also a very accurate eye. the ten minutes before lunch. proved fatal to two more of the enemy. He wore a cheerful smile as he took guard before receiving the first ball after lunch. it was not straight.

On a good wicket Wrykyn that season were a two hundred and fifty to three hundred the pavilion.-w." said Burgess helpfully. Watch that de Freece man like a hawk.-b. . He turned his first ball to leg for a single. "Thought the thing was going to break." "Hear that. He thought it was all right. "It's that googly man. would be anything record-breaking. Hullo. and their total--with Wyatt playing and making top score--had worked out at a hundred and seven." "My aunt! Who's in next? Not me?" "No." "Good gracious! How?" asked Ellerby. But Berridge survived the ordeal. if he doesn't look out. "L. But ordinary standards would not apply here. and he answers it in nine cases out of ten in the negative. The tragedy started with the very first ball. "Morris is out. For goodness sake. emerging from the room with one pad on his leg and the other in his hand. but it didn't." said Burgess blankly. hard condition. It hardly seemed that the innings had begun. You must look out for that. and make for the pavilion. when Morris was seen to leave the crease. Morris sat down and began to take off his pads. "That chap'll have Berry. he said. "What's happened?" shouted a voice from the interior of the first eleven room. rather than confidence that their best. Morris! Bad luck! Were you out. * * * * * With the ground in its usual true. Berry? He doesn't always break. was the spirit which animated the team when they opened their innings.-b." he said. It would have been a gentle canter for them. and not your legs. do you think?" A batsman who has been given l. is always asked this question on his return to the pavilion. stick a bat in the way. First ball. Wrykyn would have gone in against a score of a hundred and sixty-six with the cheery intention of knocking off the runs for the loss of two or three wickets.-w. And in five minutes this had changed to a dull gloom. when done. The Ripton total was a hundred and sixty-six. Morris was the tenth case. for this or any ground. He breaks like sin all over the shop. On a bad wicket--well. Berridge. A grim determination to do their best. Berry. they had met the Incogniti on a bad wicket.

Bob's out!. He had then. "This is all right. The bowler at the other end looked fairly plain. The voice of the scorer. and the next moment the bails had shot up like the _débris_ of a small explosion. The star of the Ripton attack was evidently de Freece. A no-ball in the same over sent up the first ten. A silence that could be felt brooded over the pavilion. "It's getting trickier every minute. addressing from his little wooden hut the melancholy youth who was working the telegraph-board. Mike nodded. Ellerby was missed in the slips off de been playing with slowly increasing confidence till seemed to throw him out of his stride. "One for two. stumped. He sent them down medium-pace. No. changed his stroke suddenly and tried to step back. The cloud began to settle again.. Ellerby took off his pads. "isn't it! I wonder if the man at the other end is a sort of young Rhodes too!" Fortunately he was not. and on a good wicket would probably have been simple. jumping out to drive. he was smartly at thirty. dreamy way wicket-keepers have on these occasions. and took off his blazer. The last of the over had him in two minds. if we can only stay in." Ellerby echoed the remark. but this the next ball. It was evident from the way he shaped that Marsh was short of practice. He started to play forward. With the score Freece. Berridge relieved the tension a little by playing safely through the over.. The wicket'll get better. the cloud began perceptibly to lift. we might have a chance. He was in after Bob. He played inside and was all but bowled: and then." he said. and I don't believe they've any bowling at all bar de Freece. He scratched awkwardly at three balls without hitting them. Last man duck. and to be on the eve of batting does not make one conversational. and the second tragedy occurred. Ten for two was not good. And when Ellerby not only survived the destructive de Freece's second over." said Ellerby. His visit to the Infirmary had taken the edge off his batting. and scoring a couple of twos off it. and the wicket-keeper was clapping his gloved hands gently and slowly in the introspective. By George. broke it. Mike was silent and thoughtful. But to-day there was danger in the most guileless-looking deliveries. "You in next?" asked Ellerby. but it was considerably better than one for two." . he isn't. He got up. and dropped into the chair next to Mike's. "The only thing is. Bob was the next man in. but actually lifted a loose ball on to the roof of the scoring-hut.This brought Marsh to the batting end.

but now that the time of inaction was at an end he felt curiously composed. He was not quite sure whether he was glad or sorry at the respite. you silly ass.Bob had jumped out at one of de Freece's slows. and Burgess had his leg-stump uprooted while trying a gigantic pull-stroke. It had been an ordeal having to wait and look on while wickets fell. The next moment the wicket-keeper had the bails off. "This is just the sort of time when he might have come off. "That's the way I was had. "I'm going to shove you down one.. however. He took guard with a clear picture of the positions of the fieldsmen photographed on his brain. Every little helps." said Ellerby. when. Jackson.." he said. Oh. and had nearly met the same fate.. "Forty-one for four. Third man was returning the ball as the batsmen crossed. as he walked out of the pavilion to join Bob. The bowler's cheerful smile never varied. which was repeated. "Good man. as if it were some one else's." said Ellerby.C. the bowler re-tying the scarf round his waist. 54. get _back_!" Berridge had called Bob for a short run that was obviously no run. Berridge was out by a yard. "That man's keeping such a jolly good length that you don't know whether to stay in your ground or go out at them. the captain put on two more fours past extra-cover. There was no sense of individuality. He was cool. . Whether Burgess would have knocked de Freece off his length or not was a question that was destined to remain unsolved. for in the middle of the other bowler's over Bob hit a single. "I shall go in next myself and swipe. on the occasion of his first appearance for the school. When he had gone out to bat against the M. A howl of delight went up from the school." said Mike. little patches of brown where the turf had been worn away. on the board. was not conscious of any particular nervousness. 5." said Mike. He seemed to be watching his body walking to the wickets. He came to where Mike was sitting. the batsmen crossed.C. He noticed small things--mid-off chewing bits of grass. If only somebody would knock him off his length." The same idea apparently occurred to Burgess." "Bob's broken his egg. The melancholy youth put up the figures." "All right. 12. he experienced a quaint sensation of unreality. had fumbled the ball." said Ellerby. I believe we might win yet. "Help!" Burgess began his campaign against de Freece by skying his first ball over cover's head to the boundary. "It's a pity old Wyatt isn't here. The wicket-keeper. as Ellerby had done. But now his feelings were different. _fortissimo_. and try and knock that man de Freece off. Mike. more by accident than by accurate timing.

The umpire shook his head. And Mike took after Joe. and hit it before it had time to break. They had been well pitched up. The next ball was of the same length. Mike would not have said that he felt more than ordinarily well that day. he was rather painfully conscious of having bolted his food at lunch. Mike jumped out. But something seemed to whisper to him. Indeed. in school matches. "'S that?" shouted mid-on. De Freece said nothing. A queer little jump in the middle of the run increased the difficulty of watching him. which in a batsman exhibits itself mainly in an increased power of seeing the ball. The two balls he had played at the other end had told him nothing. is one of the most inexplicable things connected with cricket. It pitched slightly to leg. to do with actual health. a comfortable three. that he was at the top of his batting form. The Ripton bowler was as conscientious in the matter of appeals as a good bowler should be. considering his pace. or very little. but this time off the off-stump.Fitness. In the early part of an innings he often trapped the batsmen in this way. watching the ball and pushing it through the slips as if there were no such thing as a tricky wicket. and he had smothered them. The increased speed of the ball after it had touched the ground beat him. It flew along the ground through the gap between cover and extra-cover. Joe would be in his element. and not short enough to take liberties with. A man may come out of a sick-room with just that extra quickness in sighting the ball that makes all the difference. Mike prepared himself for the next ball with a glow of confidence. Bob played ball number six back to the bowler. A single off the fifth ball of the over opened his score and brought him to the opposite end. The Ripton slow bowler took a long run. Bob played out the over with elaborate care.-w. by leading them to expect a faster ball than he actually sent down. and Saunders had shown him the right way to cope with them. It has nothing. He knew what to do now. as he settled himself to face the bowler. He felt that he knew where he was now. or he may be in perfect training and play inside straight half-volleys. and whipped in quickly. . Till then he had not thought the wicket was so fast. It was a standing mystery with the sporting Press how Joe Jackson managed to collect fifties and sixties on wickets that completely upset men who were. The smiting he had received from Burgess in the previous over had not had the effect of knocking de Freece off his length. Mid-on has a habit of appealing for l. and Mike took guard preparatory to facing de Freece. The ball was too short to reach with comfort. He had seen that the ball had pitched off the leg-stump. On days when the Olympians of the cricket world were bringing their averages down with ducks and singles. He had played on wickets of this pace at home against Saunders's bowling. Mid-on tried to look as if he had not spoken. apparently. finer players.-b. Mike had faced half-left. and stepped back. The ball hit his right pad. A difficult wicket always brought out his latent powers as a bat.

the next man in. Mike watched him go with much the same feelings as those of a man who turns away from the platform after seeing a friend off on a long railway journey. however. There was nervousness written all over him. He took seven off de Freece's next over by means of two cuts and a drive. nor Grant. when the wicket had put on exactly fifty. "Don't say that. Practically they had only one. thence to ninety. He had stuck like a limpet for an hour and a quarter." Berridge was one of those who are skilled in cricket superstitions. He had an excellent style. In the present case. Then Mike got the bowling for three consecutive overs.Off the second ball of the other man's over Mike scored his first boundary. He survived an over from de Freece. that this was his day. to a hundred. Mike watched Ashe shape with a sinking heart. He had made twenty-six. but he was full of that conviction. Between them the three could not be relied on for a dozen in a decent match." "You ass. Henfrey. (Two years later. it was Ripton who were really in the better position. nor Devenish had any pretensions to be considered batsmen. Wrykyn had three more wickets to fall. The last ball of the over. for neither Ashe. but he was uncertain. Young Jackson looks as if he was in for a century. Ashe was the school wicket-keeper. Grant and Devenish were bowlers. A bye brought Henfrey to the batting end again. led to his snicking an easy catch into short-slip's hands. . The wicket-keeper looked like a man who feels that his hour has come. Bob fell to a combination of de Freece and extra-cover. He had had narrow escapes from de Freece. He banged it behind point to the terrace-bank. mainly by singles. He could feel the sting going out of the bowling every over. and the wicket was getting easier. a half-volley to leg. and so. But Mike did not get out. For himself he had no fear now. At a hundred and four. when he captained the Wrykyn teams. And. and de Freece's pet googly. To-day he never looked like settling down. "Sixty up. he lifted over the other boundary." said Berridge. was a promising rather than an effective bat. as the umpire signalled another no-ball. "By George! I believe these chaps are going to knock off the runs. and made twenty-one. His departure upset the scheme of things. with Bob still exhibiting a stolid and rock-like defence. and raised the score to a hundred and twenty-six. He might possibly get out off his next ball. A hundred and twenty-seven for seven against a total of a hundred and sixty-six gives the impression that the batting side has the advantage. or he's certain to get out. the score mounted to eighty. It was a long-hop on the off. he made a lot of runs. which had not been much in evidence hitherto. Mike could see him licking his lips. but he felt set enough to stay at the wickets till nightfall.) But this season his batting had been spasmodic." said Ellerby. Apparently. and hit a fast change bowler who had been put on at the other end for a couple of fluky fours. which comes to all batsmen on occasion. in the pavilion.

But he did not score. and for the first five balls he could not find his length. The telegraph-board showed a hundred and fifty. But each time luck was with him. His whole existence seemed to concentrate itself on those forty runs. "Come on. "Over. But how was he to do this? It suddenly occurred to him that it was a delicate position that he was in. "collar the bowling all you know." said the umpire. "For goodness sake. it all but got through Mike's defence. Jackson. Mike felt that the school's one chance now lay in his keeping the bowling. Forty to win! A large order. and set his teeth.." he whispered. The original medium-paced bowler had gone on again in place of the fast man. Could he go up to him and explain that he. and echoed by the Ripton fieldsmen. who was the last of several changes that had been tried at the other end. It was not often that he was troubled by an inconvenient modesty. But it was going to be done. and his bat was across the crease before the bails were off. did not consider him competent to bat in this crisis? Would not this get about and be accounted to him for side? He had made forty. Mike and the ball arrived at the opposite wicket almost simultaneously. Faster than the rest and of a perfect length." said Mike. was well-meaning but erratic. Grant was a fellow he hardly knew. De Freece's first ball made a hideous wreck of his wicket. During those five balls Mike raised the score to a hundred and sixty. Fortunately Grant solved the problem on his own account. with de Freece smiling pleasantly as he walked back to begin his run with the comfortable reflection that at last he had got somebody except Mike to bowl at. and he would have been run out. taken up a moment later all round the ground." "All right. [Illustration: MIKE AND THE BALL ARRIVED ALMOST SIMULTANEOUSLY] The last balls of the next two overs provided repetitions of this performance. The next over was doubly sensational." shouted Grant. or we're done. announced that he had reached his fifty. The last ball of the over he mishit. But the sixth was of a different kind. The fast bowler. he stopped it. . He came up to Mike and spoke with an earnestness born of nerves. but even so. but this happened now. and it was possible to take liberties.. I shall get outed first ball. A distant clapping from the pavilion. Another fraction of a second.. and a school prefect to boot. Mike took them. The wicket was almost true again now. The umpire called "Over!" and there was Grant at the batting end. It rolled in the direction of third man.He was not kept long in suspense. As it was.

The fifth curled round his bat. but the Wrykyn total was one hundred and seventy-two. Mike had got the bowling. and touched the off-stump. The ball hit the very centre of Devenish's bat. It was an awe-inspiring moment. by the way?" "Eighty-three." continued he." "You've got a rum idea of what's funny. * * * * * "Good game. I say. but determined. Point and the slips crowded round. He bowled rippingly. Devenish's face was a delicate grey. and rolled back down the pitch. * * * * * Devenish was caught and bowled in de Freece's next over. The next moment the crisis was past. but nobody appeared to recognise this fact as important. There were still seven runs between them and victory. Mid-off and mid-on moved half-way down the pitch." "That family! How many more of them are you going to have here?" "He's the last. Mike's knees trembled." said Maclaine. CHAPTER XXIX WYATT AGAIN . rough luck on de Freece. The school broke into one great howl of joy." Politeness to a beaten foe caused Burgess to change his usual "not bad. "Who was the man who made all the runs? How many. A great stillness was over all the ground. "that young Jackson was only playing as a sub." said Maclaine. Grant pursued the Fabian policy of keeping his bat almost immovable and trusting to luck. meeting Burgess in the pavilion. A bail fell silently to the ground. though once nearly caught by point a yard from the wicket. Brother of the other one." "The funny part of it is. His smile was even more amiable than usual as he began his run. It was young Jackson. It seemed almost an anti-climax when a four to leg and two two's through the slips settled the thing. Devenish came in to take the last ball of the over. Grant looked embarrassed. The only person unmoved seemed to be de Freece. For four balls he baffled the attack.That over was an experience Mike never forgot. and the bowling was not de Freece's.

had settled down to serious work. conversationally. including Gladys Maud." said Marjory." said Ella. Jackson. Mrs. The rest. Perhaps that letter on Mike's plate supplies them." said Mr. The hour being nine-fifteen. "Shall I go and hurry him up?" The missing member of the family entered as she spoke. "He gives no details. "There's a letter from Wyatt. Jackson was reading letters. Mike. who kept a fatherly eye on the Buenos Ayres sheep. "What does he say?" inquired Marjory. after both combatants had been cautioned by the referee." began Gladys Maud. "Who was the duel with?" "How many bushrangers were there?" asked Phyllis. "Bush-ray. That young man seems to make things fairly lively wherever he is." said Phyllis. "He seems very satisfied with Mike's friend Wyatt. "Bush-ray. referred to in a previous chapter. He's been wounded in a duel. I see it comes from Buenos Ayres." "With a bushranger." .It was a morning in the middle of September. "There aren't any bushrangers in Buenos Ayres. "I've had a letter from MacPherson. bush-ray. Mike read on. "How do you know?" said Phyllis clinchingly. whose finely chiselled features were gradually disappearing behind a mask of bread-and-milk. Mike's place was still empty. bush-ray." "I wish Mike would come and open it." she shouted. through the bread-and-milk." "Has he been fighting a duel?" asked Marjory. "Sorry I'm late. but was headed off. I don't wonder he found a public school too restricted a sphere for his energies. "Good old Wyatt! He's shot a man. but expects to be fit again shortly. Jackson) had resulted. who had duly secured the stakes. The Jacksons were breakfasting. in a victory for Marjory." explained Gladys Maud. Mr. "Bushrangers. "Is there?" said Mike. MacPherson was the vigorous and persevering gentleman." added Phyllis. interested." He opened the letter and began to read. and the official time for breakfast nine o'clock. The usual catch-as-catch-can contest between Marjory and Phyllis for the jam (referee and time-keeper. "Buck up. At the moment of writing Wyatt is apparently incapacitated owing to a bullet in the shoulder.

It must be almost as decent as Wrykyn out there. a good chap who can't help being ugly.. He fired as we came up." said Marjory. All the farms out here have their boundaries marked by wire fences. an Old Wykehamist. First page is mostly about the Ripton match and so on. "I told you it was a duel. JACKSON MAKES UP HIS MIND . proceeded to cut the fence. 'I'm dictating this to a sportsman of the name of Danvers. so I shall have to stop. and coming back. and that's when the trouble began. The fact is we've been having a bust-up here. In the meantime he got me in the right shoulder. and his day's work was done. "What a dreadful thing!" said Mrs. After a bit we overtook him. when I happened to catch sight of Chester's pistol. what's under that dish?" CHAPTER XXX MR. instead of shifting off. it was practically a bushranger. Danvers says he's getting writer's cramp. "What a terrible experience for the poor boy!" said Mrs. I picked it up.. and tooled after him. so he came to us and told us what had happened. and it was any money on the Gaucho. So this rotter. pulled out our revolvers. which had fallen just by where I came down. A chap called Chester. This is what he says. so excuse bad writing. "I'm glad he's having such a ripping time.'" "By Jove!" said Mike. The next item of the programme was a forward move in force on the part of the enemy. he wanted to ride through our place.. but got him with the second in the ankle at about two yards. It happened like this. "Much better than being in a beastly bank. I got going then. and I were dipping sheep close by. but it turned out it was only his leg. We nipped on to a couple of horses. The man had got his knife out now--why he didn't shoot again I don't know--and toddled over in our direction to finish us off. Jackson. Here you are. the lodge-keeper's son dashed off in search of help. which has crocked me for the time being. That's the painful story. I say. Jackson." said Phyllis. Well. and dropped poor old Chester. What he was really doing was getting a steady aim at us with his revolver.. The johnny had dismounted when we arrived. An ass of a Gaucho had gone into the town and got jolly tight. and so it was. and missed him clean every time. "Anyhow. I thought he was killed at first. though it was only a sort of dull shock at the moment. and I've come out of it with a bullet in the shoulder.. Hurt like sin afterwards. Only potted him in the leg. and it is supposed to be a deadly sin to cut these. Missed the first shot. and go through that way. Chester was unconscious."Killed him?" asked Marjory excitedly. I emptied all the six chambers of my revolver. "No. I thought he was simply tightening his horse's girths. and loosed off." said Mike. Gave him the absolute miss-in-baulk. summing up.. The old woman who keeps the lodge wouldn't have it at any price.

" "Have you? Thanks awfully. the meal was nearly over. "Hullo. looked on in a detached sort of way. "I'm a bit late. The kidneys failed to retain Mike's undivided attention. "I say. Mrs. Marjory sat on the table and watched Mike eat. Blake used to write when you were in his form. while Marjory. Mike. as usual." "Last summer he said he'd take me away if I got another one. "they ought to be jolly glad to have you at Wrykyn just for cricket. instead of writing beastly reports that make father angry and don't do any good to anybody. though for the others. "Your report came this morning." said Mike philosophically. as she always did." she said. "What did it say?" "I didn't see--I only caught sight of the Wrykyn crest on the envelope. taking his correspondence with him. Jackson had gone into the kitchen. that looks rather rotten! I wonder if it was awfully bad." "He didn't mean it really." Mike seemed concerned. When he came down on this particular morning. She was fond of her other brothers. Mr." "It can't be any worse than the horrid ones Mr. Mike always was late for breakfast in the holidays. I _know_ he didn't! He couldn't! You're the best bat Wrykyn's ever had. but Mike was her favourite. that the document in question was not exactly a paean of praise from beginning to end. I say--" his eye wandered in mild surprise round the table. He looked up interested. even for Joe. especially when they made centuries in first-class cricket. who had played in all five Test Matches in the previous summer. jumping up as he entered. She had adopted him at an early age. Phyllis and Ella finished their dispute and went out." . "here you are--I've been keeping everything hot for you. She would field out in the deep as a natural thing when Mike was batting at the net in the paddock. as Mr. as if these juvenile gambols distressed her." "No. Father didn't say anything. If Mike had been in time for breakfast that morning he might have gathered from the expression on his father's face. who had put her hair up a fortnight before. fetching and carrying for Mike." she said." Marjory was bustling about. "Think there's any more tea in that pot?" "I call it a shame. Mike. she would do it only as a favour. that's a comfort. and when Mike appeared the thing had resolved itself into a mere vulgar brawl between Phyllis and Ella for the jam. Jackson opened the envelope containing his school report and read the contents. Jackson had disappeared. It's the first I've had from Appleby." said Marjory. But he was late. and did the thing thoroughly.Two years have elapsed and Mike is home again for the Easter holidays.

"Oh. you got your first the very first term you were there--even Joe didn't do anything nearly so good as that. Mike's end-of-term report was an unfailing wind-raiser. who looked on Mike as his own special invention. He had filled out in three years. indeed. Blake's sarcastic _résumé_ of Mike's short-comings at the end of the . Mike put on his pads and went to the wickets. breezes were apt to ruffle the placid sea of good-fellowship." Saunders was setting up the net when they arrived." Henfrey. By the way. Saunders was a good sound bowler of the M. "in a beastly wax. Mr. but already he was beginning to find his form.C. He liked the prospect. and each season he had advanced tremendously in his batting. Why. At night sometimes he would lie awake. or making a hash of things by choosing the wrong men to play for the school and leaving the right men out. Jackson was an understanding sort of man. on the arrival of Mr. minor match type." "I wish I wasn't. "You _are_. He seems--" added Phyllis. but it certainly carried with it a rather awe-inspiring responsibility. father wants you. throwing in the information by way of a make-weight. Master Mike." was his muttered exclamation. it's a beastly responsibility. He had always had the style. "I hope the dickens it's nothing to do with that bally report.C. but Mike had been in the Wrykyn team for three seasons now. He bowled me a half-volley on the off the first ball I had in a school match."What ho!" interpolated Mike. and there had been a time when he had worried Mike considerably. Saunders's bowling on a true wicket seemed simple to him. was delighted. I've been hunting for you. Mike. was not returning next term." Mike's jaw fell slightly. the Wrykyn cricket captain of the previous season. Saunders. and Mike was to reign in his stead. who treated his sons as companions. It is no light thing to captain a public school at cricket. appalled by the fear of losing his form. It was early in the Easter holidays. As he was walking towards the house. Let's go and see. I wonder if he's out at the net now. She was kept busy." "Saunders is a jolly good chap. while Marjory and the dogs retired as usual to the far hedge to retrieve. Phyllis met him." "What for?" "I don't know. Everybody says you are. and now he had the strength as well. Saunders says you're simply bound to play for England in another year or two. "If you don't be worried by being too anxious now that you're captain. Mike's dealings with his father were as a rule of a most pleasant nature. however. "you'll make a century every match next term." he said. From time to time." "Where?" "He's in the study.

Inattentive and idle. with a sort of sickly interest. what is more. but on several occasions." said Mr. very poor.'" Mike moaned a moan of righteous indignation." "Here are Mr. Jackson in the habit of booting the basket. scented a row in the offing. "I want to speak to you. It was with a certain amount of apprehension. I say!" groaned the record-breaker. that Jackson entered the study. which he declines to use in the smallest degree. ." Mike. he paused.'" "Nobody does much work in Math. Book Two. therefore. Jackson was a man of his word. is that my report." replied Mr." said his father. "'His conduct.previous term. Mike. conduct disgraceful----'" "Everybody rags in French. "I want you to listen to this report. Greek. Only in moments of emotion was Mr. "'has been unsatisfactory in the extreme.'" "We were doing Thucydides." "'Mathematics bad. kicking the waste-paper basket. I only happened----" Remembering suddenly that what he had happened to do was to drop a cannon-ball (the school weight) on the form-room floor. both in and out of school. which Mike broke by remarking that he had carted a half-volley from Saunders over the on-side hedge that morning." "'Latin poor. father?" said Mike. there had been something not unlike a typhoon. Jackson in measured tones.'" "It wasn't anything really. Appleby's remarks: 'The boy has genuine ability. "Come in. skilled in omens. much as a dog about to be washed might evince in his tub. Jackson." "Oh. and Mr. last term--all speeches and doubtful readings. so I stepped out--may I bag the paper-knife for a jiffy? I'll just show----" "Never mind about cricket now. "'French bad. Jackson had solemnly declared his intention of removing Mike from Wrykyn unless the critics became more flattering. It was on this occasion that Mr.'" quoted Mr. and cruxes and things--beastly hard! Everybody says so. Jackson. not once. "your report. "It is. There followed an awkward silence. "It was just a bit short and off the leg stump. it is without exception the worst report you have ever had." "Oh.

Mike's outlook on life was that of a cricketer. and there was an end of it. and an icy wind blew over the face of the earth. Appleby said as much in a clear firm hand. He understood him. and some of Mike's shots on the off gave him thrills of pure aesthetic joy. "I shall abide by what I said. but to Mike at that moment the sky was black.' There is more to the same effect. Jackson could read Mike's mind like a book. "It is not a large school. folding the lethal document and replacing it in its envelope. He did not approve of it. Mike's point of view was plain to him. and to an unbiased eye Mike in a form-room was about as near the extreme edge as a boy could be. Young Barlitt won a Balliol scholarship from Sedleigh last year. but still blithely). but as a master he always made it his habit to regard the manners and customs of the boys in his form with an unbiased eye." Mr. "I am sending you to Sedleigh. somewhere in the world lambkins frisked and peasants sang blithely at their toil (flat. perhaps. Mr. his father. having all the unbending tenacity of the normally easy-going man. What had Sedleigh ever done? What were they ever likely to do? Whom did they play? What Old Sedleighan had ever done anything at cricket? Perhaps they didn't even _play_ cricket! "But it's an awful hole. He made no attempt to appeal against the sentence. Mike said nothing. He understood cricket." Barlitt was the vicar's son. He knew Sedleigh by name--one of those schools with about a hundred fellows which you never hear of except when they send up their gymnasium pair to Aldershot. Appleby was a master with very definite ideas as to what constituted a public-school master's duties. Jackson. "and I don't suppose it could play Wrykyn at cricket. "You will not go back to Wrykyn next term. or their Eight to Bisley. spectacled youth who did not enter . and Mr. He knew it would be useless. birds were twittering. pure and simple." he said."'An abnormal proficiency at games has apparently destroyed all desire in him to realise the more serious issues of life." was his next remark. there was a sinking feeling in his interior." he said blankly. Jackson was sorry for Mike. when he made up his mind. but he knew that in Mike's place and at Mike's age he would have felt the same. but it has one merit--boys work there. As a man he was distinctly pro-Mike. He spoke drily to hide his sympathy. a silent. Mike?" said Mr. and for that reason he said very little now. "You remember what I said to you about your report at Christmas." Mike's heart thumped. Mr. Sedleigh! Mike sat up with a jerk. The tragedy had happened." Somewhere in the world the sun was shining.

thanks. Jackson. that he had never seen a more repulsive porter. pulled up again. "So you're back from Moscow. sir?" inquired the solitary porter. sir. seeing the name of the station. sorrier for himself than ever. and said. got up. which was a good deal better than saying what he would have liked to have said. Hi. Which 'ouse was it you was going to?" "Outwood's. CHAPTER XXXI SEDLEIGH The train. Also the boots he wore. Mike nodded. They had met occasionally at tennis-parties. It's straight on up this road to the school. He hated the station." said the porter. "It's a goodish step. but not much conversation had ensued. sir. Then he got out himself and looked about him. sir. sir. or one more obviously incompetent than the man who had attached himself with a firm grasp to the handle of the bag as he strode off in the direction of the luggage-van. perceiving from Mike's _distrait_ air that the boy was a stranger to the place. Mike said nothing. which had been stopping everywhere for the last half-hour. he had set himself deliberately to look on the dark side. George!" "I'll walk. You can't miss it. I'll send up your luggage by the 'bus." "Here you are. eh?" Mike was feeling thoroughly jaundiced. and the man who took his ticket. And. "goes up in the 'bus mostly. "Young gents at the school. A sombre nod. The nod Napoleon might have given if somebody had met him in 1812. Barlitt speaks very highly of Sedleigh. He disliked his voice. but his topics of conversation were not Mike's. and Mike. and the colour of his hair. for instance." "Worse luck. sir. It's waiting here. and hurled a Gladstone bag out on to the platform in an emphatic and vindictive manner. It was such ." "Right." said Mike frigidly. "Mr.very largely into Mike's world. opened the door. The future seemed wholly gloomy. as if he hoped by sheer energy to deceive the traveller into thinking that Sedleigh station was staffed by a great army of porters. sir. sir. Barlitt's mind was massive. so far from attempting to make the best of things. his appearance. "For the school." "Thank you." added Mr. bustling up." said Mike. He walked off up the road. He thought.

He had meant to do such a lot for Wrykyn cricket this term. and the three captains under whom he had played during his career as a Wrykynian. It was soon after this that he caught sight. the captain of cricket was removed during the Easter holidays. and was shown into a room lined with books. And as captain of cricket. at that. There was no doubt that Mike's sudden withdrawal meant that Wrykyn would have a bad time that season. might make a century in an hour. Mike's heart bled for Wrykyn. but probably Strachan would have some scheme of his own." He had the same eyebrows and pince-nez and the same motherly look. the return by over sixty points. Outwood. Outwood's." . free bat on his day. Outwood. but almost as good. from the top of a hill. There were three houses in a row. For the last two seasons he had been the star man. Now it might never be used. But it was not the same thing. About now. Ten minutes' walk brought him to the school gates. instead of being on his way to a place where they probably ran a diabolo team instead of a cricket eleven. In appearance he reminded Mike of Smee in "Peter Pan. sir. And it had been such a wretched athletic year for the school.absolutely rotten luck. At Wrykyn he had always charged in at the beginning of term at the boys' entrance. and a baker's boy directed him to Mr. Wrykyn. separated from the school buildings by a cricket-field. This must be Sedleigh. He had never been in command. he would be on the point of arriving at Wrykyn. Strachan was a good. "Jackson?" he said mildly. He had had an entirely new system of coaching in his mind. but this formal reporting of himself at Sedleigh suited his mood. and Henfrey had always been sportsmen to him. Sheen's victory in the light-weights at Aldershot had been their one success. There is nobody who could not edit a paper in the ideal way. who would be captain in his place. would be weak this year. on top of all this. and knocked. and had lost both the Ripton matches. now that he was no longer there. but he was not to be depended upon. Once he crossed a river. and. too. and heading the averages easily at the end of the season. For three miles Mike made his way through woods and past fields. Enderby. Presently the door opened. He inquired for Mr. Burgess. and the house-master appeared. going in first. of a group of buildings that wore an unmistakably school-like look. Which was the bitter part of it. Outwood's was the middle one of these. There was something pleasant and homely about Mr. and there is nobody who has not a theory of his own about cricket-coaching at school. The only thing he could find in its favour was the fact that it was set in a very pretty country. And now. "Yes. The football fifteen had been hopeless. Mike went to the front door. and he found himself loathing Sedleigh and all its works with a great loathing. Of a different type from the Wrykyn country. and played hunt-the-slipper in winter. if he survived a few overs. He had handed it on in a letter to Strachan.

having flicked an invisible speck of dust from the left sleeve of his coat. 1133-40----" "Shall I go across to the boys' part. was leaning against the mantelpiece. that's to say. That sort of idea. "is Smith. It was a little hard. he fumbled in his top left waistcoat pocket." he said. Oh." Mike wandered across to the other side of the house. Everywhere else he had found nothing but emptiness. I understand. sir?" "What? Yes. standing quite free from the apse wall. with a solemn face and immaculate clothes. A Nursery Garden in the Home. yes. "Hullo. Quite so. who would not have recognised a Cluniac Priory if you had handed him one on a tray. A deeply interesting relic of the sixteenth century. with chamfered plinth. "Hullo. I think you might like a cup of tea. finding his bearings. thin youth. I daresay you have frequently seen the Cluniac Priory of St. he spoke. where they probably played hopscotch. The northern altar is in a state of really wonderful preservation. "Take a seat. Ambrose. Jackson. In many respects it is unique. with a house-master who offered one cups of tea after one's journey and talked about chamfered plinths and apses. and it has always been my wish to see the Cluniac Priory of St. You will find the matron in her room. And perhaps you would like a cup of tea after your journey? No? Quite so. But this room was occupied. Good-bye for the present. Jackson. I am preparing a book on Ruined Abbeys and Priories of England. Jackson." he added pensively. then. very glad indeed. and finally came to a room which he took to be the equivalent of the senior day-room at a Wrykyn house. I don't see any prospect of ever sitting down in this place." said Mike. Perhaps you would like a cup of tea after your journey."I am very glad to see you. Bishop Geoffrey. With the help of this aid to vision he inspected Mike in silence for a while. Ambrose at Brindleford?" Mike. A very long. and fixed it in his right eye. "Dear me! You have missed an opportunity which I should have been glad to have. What's yours?" . My name. As Mike entered. in Shropshire. All alone in a strange school. good-bye. Evidently he had come by an earlier train than was usual. He spoke in a tired voice. It will well repay a visit. near Brindleford? It is a part of the country which I have always wished to visit. It looks to me as if they meant to use these chairs as mustard-and-cress beds. said he had not. produced an eyeglass attached to a cord. Quite so. his gloom visibly deepened. "If you don't mind dirtying your bags. It consists of a solid block of masonry five feet long and two and a half wide. Personally. You should make a point of visiting the remains of the Cluniac Priory in the summer holidays." said the immaculate one. He strayed about. You come from Crofton.

" "But why Sedleigh. but I've decided to strike out a fresh line. "My infancy. The resolve came to me unexpectedly this morning. We now pass to my boyhood." said Mike. I shall found a new dynasty. then?" "Yes! Why." "The boy--what will he become? Are you new here. and I will tell you the painful story of my life. "it was not to be. I was superannuated last term. everybody predicting a bright career for me. for choice." "No?" said Mike. . But. At an early age." "For Eton. are you new?" "Do I look as if I belonged here? I'm the latest import. "Let us start at the beginning. Psmith thanked him with a certain stately old-world courtesy. By the way. Cp. there's just one thing.CHAPTER XXXII PSMITH "Jackson. yes. or simply Smith. I jotted it down on the back of an envelope. so I don't know." he resumed. the Pride of the School. before I start. If you ever have occasion to write to me. I was sent to Eton. When I was but a babe. in which the Z is given a similar miss-in-baulk. "No." said Mike. But what Eton loses. as I was buying a simple penn'orth of butterscotch out of the automatic machine at Paddington. the name Zbysco. the P not being sounded. and see that I did not raise Cain. It seems that a certain scug in the next village to ours happened last year to collar a Balliol----" "Not Barlitt!" exclaimed Mike." "Bad luck. and I don't care for Smythe. fixing an owl-like gaze on Mike through the eye-glass. Sedleigh gains. or the Boy who is Led Astray and takes to Drink in Chapter Sixteen?" "The last. See? There are too many Smiths. "Are you the Bully. would you mind sticking a P at the beginning of my name? P-s-m-i-t-h. See?" Mike said he saw. of all places?" "This is the most painful part of my narrative. Sit down on yonder settee." said Psmith solemnly. too. In conversation you may address me as Rupert (though I hope you won't). At the end of the first day she struck for one-and six. "but I've only just arrived. my eldest sister was bribed with a shilling an hour by my nurse to keep an rye on me. and got it. My father's content to worry along in the old-fashioned way.

who told our vicar. How do you like this place from what you've seen of it?" "Rotten. His dislike for his new school was not diminished." "And thereby. "was the dream of my youth and the aspiration of my riper years. You work for the equal distribution of property. A noble game. but a bit too thick for me. who told our curate. It was because his son got a Balliol that I was sent here. who told my father. Divided. and start by collaring all you can and sitting on it. Now tell me yours. quite a solid man--and I hear that Comrade Outwood's an archaeological cove." "My reports from Eton were simply scurrilous. There's an Archaeological Society in the school. Lost lambs." "Wrykyn." "I am with you. laddie. Have you seen Professor Radium yet? I should say Mr. The very sound of the name Lower Benford was heartening. What do you think of him?" "He doesn't seem a bad sort of chap. Comrade Jackson. together we may worry through." said Psmith. The son of the vicar."That was the man." "I've lived at Lower Benford all my life. "Where were you before you came here?" asked Psmith. It's a great scheme. You won't mind my calling you Comrade." said Psmith. "You have heard my painful story. To get off cricket." "Do you come from Crofton?" "Yes. Here was a fellow human being in this desert place. "hangs a tale. Sheep that have gone astray. There's a libel action in every sentence. Outwood. who sent me off here to get a Balliol too. We are companions in misfortune. Jawed about apses and things. prowling about. whom I met in the grounds--he's the school sergeant or something. and so on. Do _you_ know Barlitt?" "His pater's vicar of our village. Cheer a little. Bit off his nut. dusting his right trouser-leg. He could almost have embraced Psmith. Goes about the country beating up old ruins and fossils and things. we fall. The vicar told the curate. And. will you?" Mike felt as Robinson Crusoe felt when he met Friday. and is allowed to break bounds and generally steep itself to the eyebrows in reckless devilry. will you? I've just become a Socialist. My pater took me away because I got such a lot of bad reports. We must stick together. but now he felt that life there might at least be tolerable. It goes out on half-holidays. run by him. You ought to be one. At Eton I used to have to field out at the nets till the soles of my boots wore through. if you belong to the Archaeological Society you get off cricket. I suppose you are a blood at the game? Play for the school against Loamshire. mark you." . We are practically long-lost brothers. I've been making inquiries of a stout sportsman in a sort of Salvation Army uniform.

To stand by with folded arms and a sombre frown. used to break out at night and shoot at cats with an air-pistol." "Then let's beat up a study. I suppose they have studies here." "Good idea. "We will. and straightening his tie. was one way of treating the situation." "I vote we get some tea first somewhere. "is the exact programme." "But the real owner's bound to turn up some time or other." said Mike. "This'll do us well." he said." . Above all. The determination not to play cricket for Sedleigh as he could not play for Wrykyn gave Mike a sort of pleasure. looking out over the school grounds. Let's go and look. There were a couple of deal tables. hand in hand. We'll nose about for a gun at the earliest opp. and a looking-glass. "Might have been made for us. But rabbits in the daytime is a scheme. called Wyatt. and do a bit of rabbit-shooting here and there. as it were. will search the countryside for ruined abbeys. and one not without its meed of comfort." They went upstairs." said Psmith. I shouldn't think he was one of the lynx-eyed contingent. and do a bit on our own account. Psmith opened the first of these."I'm not going to play here." said Psmith approvingly." "Not now. From what I saw of Comrade Outwood during our brief interview. This is practical Socialism. We will snare the elusive fossil together. looking at himself earnestly in the mirror. "I suppose it belongs to some rotter. You and I." "It would take a lot to make me do that. Achilles knew his business when he sat in his tent. With tact we ought to be able to slip away from the merry throng of fossil-chasers. It was a biggish room. at any rate. A chap at Wrykyn." "You aren't going to collar it!" "That. I am all against anything that interferes with my sleep. On the first floor there was a passage with doors on either side. I shouldn't wonder if one mightn't borrow a gun from some friendly native. "Stout fellow. and get our names shoved down for the Society. hung on a nail. and have a jolly good time as well. Meanwhile we'd better go up to Comrade Outwood. "'Tis well. we will go out of bounds. There is a certain fascination about making the very worst of a bad job. two empty bookcases." said Mike. He had made up his mind on this point in the train. We must stake out our claims." he said. Psmith approved the resolve. We shall thus improve our minds.

Many a bright young lad has been soured by them. Remind me later to go on with my remarks on school reports. could you. it was Mike who abstracted the key from the door of the next study."His misfortune. come and help me fetch up my box from downstairs. evidently without a suspicion that there would be any resistance. spooning up tea from a paper bag with a postcard." said Psmith sympathetically." said Psmith. as he watched Mike light the Etna. in the matter of decorating a study and preparing tea in it. "You couldn't make a long arm. not ours. somebody comes right in. "Dash the door!" "Hackenschmidt!" said Mike. "is what we chiefly need in this age of publicity. I had several bright things to say on the subject. He was full of ideas." said Psmith." "We shall jolly well make it out of the window. and a voice outside said. That putrid calendar must come down. If you leave a study door unlocked in these strenuous times. and begins to talk about himself. and haul it off the parent tin-tack? Thanks. How are you getting on with the evening meal?" "Just ready. but it was Mike who wrenched it from its place. the first thing you know is. sits down." said Mike." CHAPTER XXXIII STAKING OUT A CLAIM Psmith. I think with a little care we ought to be able to make this room quite decently comfortable. I have a presentiment that he will be an insignificant-looking little weed. was rather a critic than an executant. but he preferred to allow Mike to carry them out. "are the very dickens. What are you going to do about it?" "Don't let us worry about it. We make progress. if you want to be really useful. And now. What's this. though. "The weed. I wonder. It's got an Etna and various things in it. "Privacy. There are moments when one wants to be alone." "These school reports. though the idea was Psmith's." A heavy body had plunged against the door. We make progress. "if a sort of young Hackenschmidt turns up and claims the study. You can't expect two master-minds like us to pig it in that room downstairs." . Similarly. It was he who suggested that the wooden bar which ran across the window was unnecessary. What would you give to be at Eton now? I'd give something to be at Wrykyn. Hullo. Do you think you could make a long arm. It is imperative that we have a place to retire to after a fatiguing day. and turn the key? We had better give this merchant audience. A rattling at the handle followed.

"Well. wearing a bowler hat and carrying a bag. Psmith rose courteously from his chair. Are you new chaps?" "The very latest thing. and flung it open." he repeated. and moved forward with slow stateliness to do the honours. all might have been well.Mike unlocked the door. He went straight to the root of the matter." said Psmith. "It's beastly cheek. and harangued Spiller in a philosophical vein. on arrival." "My name's Spiller. Your own name will doubtless come up in the course of general chit-chat over the tea-cups. Let me introduce you to Comrade Jackson." said he. We must distinguish between the unusual and the impossible." Mike's outlook on life was of the solid. and said. that's what I call it. stay!' Your sisters----" "I want to know what----" "Your sisters froze on to your knees like little octopuses (or octopi). a people that know not Spiller. don't leave us!' Your mother clung to you weeping. and. and this is my study. Framed in the entrance was a smallish. 'Don't go. A stout fellow. "the saddest are these: 'It might have been. Come in and join us." said Psmith." said Psmith. "In this life. If you had torn yourself from the bosom of the Spiller family by an earlier train. I am Psmith. "What are you going to do about it?" he asked. you find strange faces in the familiar room. "you stayed on till the later train. perhaps." "But we do. It is unusual for people to go about the place ." said Psmith. we Psmiths. but one of us. Comrade Spiller. it's beastly cheek. 'Edwin." inquired the newcomer. Edwin!' And so. put up his eyeglass. practical order. we must be prepared for every emergency. "What the dickens. Homely in appearance." Psmith leaned against the mantelpiece. We keep open house. Spiller's sad case had moved him greatly.' Too late! That is the bitter cry. "to restore our tissues after our journey. Your father held your hand and said huskily. "You can't go about the place bagging studies. The victim of Fate seemed in no way consoled. freckled boy. and cheered himself with a sip of tea. On his face was an expression of mingled wrath and astonishment. But no. "It's beastly cheek." Psmith went to the table. deeply affected by his recital. "Of all sad words of tongue or pen. "are you doing here?" [Illustration: "WHAT THE DICKENS ARE YOU DOING HERE?"] "We were having a little tea. 'Edwin. and screamed. Spiller evaded the question.

and gazed at the object of the tribute in a surprised way." he said.'" "Can't I! I'll----" "What _are_ you going to do about it?" said Mike. His nature expands before one like some beautiful flower.' Take the present case. you are unprepared. laying a hand patronisingly on the study-claimer's shoulder--a proceeding violently resented by Spiller--"is a character one cannot help but respect. 'I couldn't. We may as well all go together. He cannot cope with the situation. Only it turned out to be the foot-brake after all." said Psmith. and Jackson. 'Now we'll let her rip." "We'll see what Outwood says about it. so." The trio made their way to the Presence. Spiller. "Ah." said Psmith. that I didn't mind betting you were an insignificant-looking little weed. Psmith particularly debonair. I tell you what it----" "I was in a motor with a man once. we know. Outwood received this eulogy with rather a startled expression. and I'm next on the house list. and we stopped dead. Mike sullen. 'I wouldn't. The cry goes round: 'Spiller has been taken unawares. It was Simpson's last term. As it is. Spiller. Spiller pink and determined. let this be a lesson to you. I'm going to have it. and the other's the accelerator. and skidded into a ditch. and now and then pointed out to Spiller objects of interest by the wayside. The thing comes on you as a surprise. By no means a scaly project. it's my study.' 'But suppose you did?' I said. the Man of Action? How do you intend to set about it? Force is useless." "Spiller's. Error! Ah." Mr. I am glad to see that you have already made friends.' So he stamped on the accelerator. the man of Logic. I said to him: 'What would happen if you trod on that pedal thing instead of that other pedal thing?' He said. "And Smith." "Look here. One's the foot-brake. "All I know is. . sir. I was saying to Comrade Jackson before you came in. so you have rashly ordered your life on the assumption that it is impossible." "Not an unsound scheme.' he said. If you had only realised the possibility of somebody some day collaring your study.bagging studies." "But what steps. Mr. and Simpson's left. Outwood received them with the motherly warmth which was evidently the leading characteristic of his normal manner. Comrade Jackson and myself were about to interview him upon another point. The advice I give to every young man starting life is: 'Never confuse the unusual and the impossible. of course. And you _are_ an insignificant-looking little weed. "are you going to take? Spiller. you might have thought out dozens of sound schemes for dealing with the matter. But what of Spiller. Spiller. He hummed lightly as he walked.

sir--" said Spiller. "I understand." "Spiller." "Ah. sir. if you were not too busy. Archaeology fascinates me." "Please. tolerantly. Cricket and football. quite so. Mr. not at all." "Jackson. sir. I--er--in a measure look after it. Outwood's eyes sparkled behind their pince-nez. His colleague. Smith. he is one of our oldest members. We intend to inspect the Roman Camp at Embury Hill. games that left him cold. sir--" said Spiller. I am very pleased. appeared to be the main interest in their lives." . "I like to see boys in my house friendly towards one another. Spiller. It was but rarely that he could induce new boys to join. Spiller. while his own band. too!" Mr. "One moment. Is there anything----" "Please. Outwood pondered wistfully on this at times. "Yes. who presided over the School Fire Brigade. very pleased indeed. Smith. "that there is an Archaeological Society in the school. "I am delighted. "His heart is the heart of a little child. sir. "One moment." "Oh. not knowing that the Fire Brigade owed its support to the fact that it provided its light-hearted members with perfectly unparalleled opportunities for ragging." said Psmith. sir. never had any difficulty in finding support. Boys came readily at his call." burst out this paragon of all the virtues." he said. Smith. We have a small Archaeological Society." he said at last." pursued Psmith earnestly. A grand pursuit. Do you want to join. Most delighted. "I----" "But it was not entirely with regard to Spiller that I wished to speak to you." Mr. This enthusiasm is most capital. It was a disappointment to him that so few boys seemed to wish to belong to his chosen band." "And Jackson's. Downing. Perhaps you would care to become a member?" "Please. Outwood beamed. sir. "Yes. Smith?" "Intensely. though small. Smith. Mr. sir--" began Spiller. two miles from the school." "There is no vice in Spiller. I will put down your name at once. "that accounts for it. sir. We shall have the first outing of the term on Saturday. sir."Er--quite so." "Undoubtedly." "Not at all." said Psmith. were in the main earnest. "I have been unable to induce to join." said Psmith sadly. This is capital." "Please.

sir----" Psmith eyed the speaker pityingly." He turned to Mr. I come next after Simpson. Smith. "is your besetting fault. You should have spoken before." said Psmith." said Psmith. Then you will be with us on Saturday?" "On Saturday. sir. as they closed the door. Look us up in our study one of these afternoons. "Please. Edwin." said Mike. Fight against it. We will move our things in." "Capital!" "Please. "This tendency to delay. Outwood. What is that?" "Would there be any objection to Jackson and myself taking Simpson's old study?" "By all means. Correct it." CHAPTER XXXIV GUERRILLA WARFARE ." "Quite so. Quite so. An excellent arrangement." "Thank you very much." "Yes. "One moment. sir. I like this spirit of comradeship in my house." shouted Spiller." he said. very trying for a man of culture. of course. sir. sir. Smith. always be glad to see Spiller in our study. sir. "aren't I to have it? I'm next on the list. Can't I have it?" "I'm afraid I have already promised it to Smith. "is very. "There is just one other matter. sir. "We should. if you could spare the time." "But. Smith. A very good idea. Spiller."We shall be there." "Certainly. Spiller. There is no formality between ourselves and Spiller. Spiller. sir. sir. He would always find a cheery welcome waiting there for him. Spiller. sir--" said Spiller." "All this sort of thing. It would give us a place where we could work quietly in the evenings. sir." "Quite so." "Thank you very much.

though. "about when we leave this room. they can only get at us through the door." said Psmith courteously. I don't like rows. Spiller's hot Spanish blood is not going to sit tight and do nothing under a blow like this." "What would you have done if somebody had bagged your study?" "Made it jolly hot for them!" "So will Comrade Spiller. "You're a jolly useful chap to have by you in a crisis." "We'd better nip down to the matron right off. "The difficulty is." "That's just what I was about to point out when you put it with such admirable clearness." "The loss was mine. but we must rout him out once more. "keener to the reflective mind than sitting under one's own roof-tree. I take it that he will collect a gang and make an offensive movement against us directly he can. but we can't stay all night. I say. Smith. there is nothing he can deny us. I mean." Mike intimated that he was with him on the point. face the future for awhile." As they got up. as he resumed his favourite position against the mantelpiece and surveyed the commandeered study with the pride of a householder. This place would have been wasted on Spiller. if they put us in different rooms we're done--we shall be destroyed singly in the watches of the night. we're all right while we stick here. to conduct an affair of this kind--such foresight! such resource! We must see to this at once. I'm afraid we are quite spoiling his afternoon by these interruptions." he said with approval." "What can he do? Outwood's given us the study. Here we are in a stronghold."There are few pleasures. and we can lock that. . "We will now. the door handle rattled again. It all depends on how big Comrade Spiller's gang will be. Comrade Jackson." "_And_. if we're in separate rooms we shall be in the cart. But what of the nightfall? What of the time when we retire to our dormitory?" "Or dormitories. but I'm prepared to take on a reasonable number of bravoes in defence of the home. he would not have appreciated it properly." "Not the matron--Comrade Outwood is the man." Mike was finishing his tea." said Psmith." "And jam a chair against it. "He thinks of everything! You're the man." Psmith eyed Mike with approval. with your permission. as you rightly remark." he said. jam a chair against it. To all appearances we are in a fairly tight place. "We ought to have known each other before. I suppose you realise that we are now to a certain extent up against it. We are as sons to him. and this time there followed a knocking.

rather vacant face and a receding chin strolled into the room." said Psmith." "Old Spiller. _I_ think Spiller's an ass. as one mourning over the frailty of human nature." "This is where Comrade Jellicoe's knowledge of the local geography will come in useful. "is cursing you like anything downstairs." giggled Jellicoe. "If you move a little to the left." sighed Psmith." said Psmith. in his practical way." said Psmith. because most of the chaps don't see why they should sweat themselves just because Spiller's study has been bagged." "Sturdy common sense. The object on the skyline is Comrade Jackson. then?" asked Mike."This must be an emissary of Comrade Spiller's. "He might get about half a dozen." "We shall be able to tackle a crowd like that. only it belongs to three . "Are you the chap with the eyeglass who jaws all the time?" "I _do_ wear an eyeglass." "Mine is Psmith--P-s-m-i-t-h--one of the Shropshire Psmiths. You _are_ chaps! Do you mean to say you simply bagged his study? He's making no end of a row about it." said Mike. "What's he going to do?" asked Mike. say. Do you happen to know of any snug little room. A light-haired youth with a cheerful." The new-comer giggled with renewed vigour." "There's nothing like a common thought for binding people together. not more. for instance." he explained. join the glad throng?" "Me? No fear! I think Spiller's an ass. with. about four beds in it? How many dormitories are there?" "Five--there's one with three beds in it." Mike unlocked the door. "About how many horny-handed assistants should you say that he would be likely to bring? Will you." said Psmith approvingly." "Spiller's fiery nature is a byword. "seems to be the chief virtue of the Sedleigh character. "I just came up to have a look at you. "as to the rest of the description----" "My name's Jellicoe." "How many _will_ there be. "you will catch the light and shade effects on Jackson's face better. "Let us parley with the man. "The only thing is we must get into the same dormitory. and stood giggling with his hands in his pockets." "As I suspected." said Psmith. "He's going to get the chaps to turn you out.

" he said. We will go to Comrade Outwood and stake out another claim. Smith?" he said. Jellicoe and myself sharing the dormitory with the three beds in it. Smith. and some other chaps." "And now. "That door. Better leave the door open." "Go and give Comrade Spiller our compliments and say that we can't come down. sir?" "Certainly--certainly! Tell the matron as you go down. Outwood received them even more beamingly than before. not at all! I like the boys in my house to come to me when they wish for my advice or help. "has sprung up between Jackson. "We must apologise for disturbing you. sir. A very warm friendship--" explained Psmith. I think. what can we do for you?" Spiller advanced into the study. come in. Psmith looked at him searchingly through his eyeglass. Things. I like to see it--I like to see it." "I believe in the equal distribution of property." "You _are_ a chap!" said Jellicoe. "Yes." "We were wondering. but shall be delighted to see him up here. Ah.chaps." "And we can have the room. it will save trouble. A vote of thanks to Comrade Jellicoe for his valuable assistance." This time it was a small boy. the others waited outside." he said. Smith. The handle began to revolve again. if you would have any objection to Jackson." "They want us to speak to them?" "They told me to come up and tell you to come down. Comrade Spiller." "Spiller?" "Spiller and Robinson and Stone. sir----" "Not at all. as the messenger departed. "are beginning to move. "They told me to come up and tell you to come down. as they returned to the study." said Psmith. crowding ." Mr. "Who?" "The senior day-room chaps. "we may say that we are in a fairly winning position. Jellicoe and myself. "is getting a perfect incubus! It cuts into one's leisure cruelly." said Psmith." "You make friends easily. patting the gurgling Jellicoe kindly on the shoulder.

but Mike had been watching. but it was needless. "A neat piece of work. instead of resisting. "Who was our guest?" he asked. was it? Well." cried Spiller suddenly. the drama in the atmosphere appealed to him." said Psmith approvingly. swung open. the enemy gave back." There was a scrambling of feet in the passage outside. For a moment the doorway was blocked. "They'll have it down. turning after re-locking the the doorway." said Jellicoe. "are you going to clear out of here or not?" "After Mr. and Mike. with a display of energy of which one would not have believed him capable. There was an inward rush on the enemy's part. and the human battering-ram staggered through into the study. The dogs of war are now loose." A heavy body crashed against the door. His was a simple and appreciative mind. Comrade Jackson! Might I trouble you just to turn that key quietly." said Spiller. "Robinson." "You'll get it hot. . I wonder if anybody else is thinking of calling?" Apparently frontal attack had been abandoned. if you don't. then the weight and impetus of Mike and Spiller prevailed. Outwood's kindly thought in giving us the room? You suggest a black and ungrateful action. and then a repetition of the onslaught on the door. and then to stand by for the next attack. Mike jumped to help. we are always glad to see Comrade Robinson. "Look here. Psmith closed the window gently and turned to Jellicoe. always. dusting the knees of his trousers where they had pressed against the wall. Jellicoe giggled in the background. Psmith dropped him on to the flower-bed below. you chaps. the first shot has been fired. slammed the door and locked it. the door." "We'll risk it. and the handle. "We must act. grip the invader scientifically by an arm and a leg. I say. "The preliminaries may now be considered over. Mike. Comrade Spiller." said Mike. As Mike arrived. Whisperings could be heard in the corridor. the captive was already on the window-sill. however. He grabbed Spiller by the shoulders and ran him back against the advancing crowd. you _are_ a chap!" "Robinson. stepping into the room again. was just in time to see Psmith. adjusting his tie at the looking-glass. "Come on. This time.

When they had been in the study a few moments. we could fake up some sort of barricade for the door. we would be alone. so I propose that we let them come into the dormitory." "As a matter of fact--if you don't mind--" began that man of peace. the call to food was evidently a thing not to be treated lightly by the enemy. Towards the end of the meal Psmith scribbled a note and passed it to Mike." The passage was empty when they opened the door." "Leave us. It read: "Directly this is over. I shouldn't think. His demeanour throughout the meal was that of some whimsical monarch condescending for a freak to revel with his humble subjects. "we shall have to go now. We have got for our sins to be in this place for a whole term. Is this meeting with me?" "I think that's sound." he said. life in the true sense of the word will become an impossibility. they were first out of the room. My nerves are so delicately attuned that the strain would simply reduce them to hash. Well. "We needn't drag Jellicoe into it. "Lucky you two cut away so quick. In the dining-room the beleaguered garrison were the object of general attention." said Mike. . and see what happens. you'll only get it hotter if you don't. you know." said Psmith." said Mike." "They won't do anything till after tea. Spiller's face was crimson.Somebody hammered on the door. "They were going to try and get you into the senior day-room and scrag you there. "is exciting. "You'd better come out. Everybody turned to look at them as they came in. but then we should have all the trouble over again to-morrow and the day after that. and Robinson's coat-sleeve still bore traces of garden mould. and if we are going to do the Hunted Fawn business all the time. but Psmith was in his element." "This." Mike followed the advice. Mike felt rather conscious of the eyes. Spiller. Personally I don't propose to be chivvied about indefinitely like this. "Tea. We are not prepared to carry on a long campaign--the thing must be settled at once." A bell rang in the distance. nip upstairs as quickly as you can. "No. I think we may take it as tolerably certain that Comrade Spiller and his hired ruffians will try to corner us in the dormitory to-night." "Shall we go down to the senior day-room. Jellicoe knocked at the door. we will play the fixture on our own ground. It was plain that the study episode had been a topic of conversation. "Yes?" called Psmith patiently." said Jellicoe. and have it out?" said Mike. "There's no harm in going out. of course. but it can't go on. leaning against the mantelpiece.

would make for Dormitory One in the same passage. Mr. it was unlikely that it would occur before half-past eleven. where Robinson also had a bed. "this is not Comrade Jellicoe's scene at all." "Then I think. as predicted by Jellicoe. Outwood paid his visit at eleven. I think I'll collar this table and write home and tell my people that all is well with their Rupert. closing the door. he'll simply sit tight." said Mike. they rag him. "only he won't." said Jellicoe. We shall be glad of his moral support. He never hears anything. Shall we be moving?" Mr. What would my mother say if she could see her Rupert in the midst of these reckless youths!" "All the better. that Dormitory One would be the rendezvous." said Psmith. that human encyclopaedia. We often rag half the night and nothing happens. It was probable. deposed that Spiller. well-conducted establishment. He's in a funk of Stone and Robinson. I quite agree these things are all very disturbing and painful. "we don't want anybody butting in and stopping the show before it's half started. but it's as well to do them thoroughly when one's once in for them. _ne pas_." "Comrade Jackson's Berserk blood is up--I can hear it sizzling. therefore. retiring at ten." said Psmith. As to the time when an attack might be expected. Comrade Jellicoe must stand out of the game altogether." CHAPTER XXXV UNPLEASANTNESS IN THE SMALL HOURS Jellicoe. but otherwise. The rest of the opposing forces were distributed among other and more distant rooms."Quite right." "Who is Barnes?" "Head of the house--a rotter. "And touching. and disappeared again. Outwood went the round of the dormitories at eleven. "the matter of noise. he has got to spend the term in the senior day-room. must this business be conducted in a subdued and _sotto voce_ manner. "we may look forward to a very pleasant evening. beaming vaguely into the darkness over a candle. whereas we have our little wooden _châlet_ to retire to in times of stress." said Psmith placidly. consulted on the probable movements of the enemy. or may we let ourselves go a bit here and there?" "I shouldn't think old Outwood's likely to hear you--he sleeps miles away on the other side of the house." This appears to be a thoroughly nice. as there won't be anything doing till bedtime. . Is there nobody else who might interfere with our gambols?" "Barnes might. And now.

directly he heard the door-handle turned. Psmith surveyed the result with approval. There were three steps leading down to it. listening. There was a creaking sound. stand by with your water-jug and douse it at once." said Psmith. . especially if. showed that Jellicoe. too. I seem to see Comrade Spiller coming one of the finest purlers in the world's history. 'What would Napoleon have done?' I think Napoleon would have sat in a chair by his washhand-stand. then they'll charge forward and all will be well. and he would have instructed Comrade Jellicoe. as on this occasion. Waiting in the dark for something to happen is always a trying experience. "Practically the sunken road which dished the Cuirassiers at Waterloo. Hats off to Comrade Jackson. Psmith lit a candle and they examined the ground. If it's shut we shall hear them at it when they come. he would have posted you by your washhand-stand. had heard the noise. and a slight giggle. "Dashed neat!" he said. He would then----" "I tell you what. the man with the big brain!" The floor of the dormitory was below the level of the door. don't forget to breathe like an asthmatic sheep when you hear the door opened. waiting for him. If they have." said Mike. they may wait at the top of the steps. silence is essential." "If they've got a candle----" "They won't have. "we will retire to our posts and wait. I'll collar Comrade Jellicoe's jug now and keep it handy. Comrade Jellicoe. and he had begun to doze when he was jerked back to wakefulness by the stealthy turning of the door-handle. Wain at Wrykyn on the night when Wyatt had come in through the window and found authority sitting on his bed. "These humane preparations being concluded. Comrade Jackson. which is close to the door. Mike was tired after his journey. The leg of a wardrobe and the leg of Jellicoe's bed made it possible for the string to be fastened in a satisfactory manner across the lower step. "how about tying a string at the top of the steps?" "Yes. "Shall we leave it open for them?" "Not so. I have evolved the following plan of action. A couple of sheets would also not be amiss--we will enmesh the enemy!" "Right ho!" said Mike. the faintest rustle from Psmith's direction followed. If they have no candle. Subject to your approval. Mike found his thoughts wandering back to the vigil he had kept with Mr. I always ask myself on these occasions. succeeded by a series of deep breaths. but far otherwise."How about that door?" said Mike. too. to give his celebrated imitation of a dormitory breathing heavily in its sleep. Napoleon would have done that. fling the water at a venture--fire into the brown! Lest we forget." "You _are_ a chap!" said Jellicoe.

It was pitch-dark in the dormitory, but Mike could follow the invaders' movements as clearly as if it had been broad daylight. They had opened the door and were listening. Jellicoe's breathing grew more asthmatic; he was flinging himself into his part with the whole-heartedness of the true artist. The creak was followed by a sound of whispering, then another creak. The enemy had advanced to the top step.... Another creak.... The vanguard had reached the second step.... In another moment---CRASH! And at that point the proceedings may be said to have formally opened. A struggling mass bumped against Mike's shins as he rose from his chair; he emptied his jug on to this mass, and a yell of anguish showed that the contents had got to the right address. Then a hand grabbed his ankle and he went down, a million sparks dancing before his eyes as a fist, flying out at a venture, caught him on the nose. Mike had not been well-disposed towards the invaders before, but now he ran amok, hitting out right and left at random. His right missed, but his left went home hard on some portion of somebody's anatomy. A kick freed his ankle and he staggered to his feet. At the same moment a sudden increase in the general volume of noise spoke eloquently of good work that was being put in by Psmith. Even at that crisis, Mike could not help feeling that if a row of this calibre did not draw Mr. Outwood from his bed, he must be an unusual kind of house-master. He plunged forward again with outstretched arms, and stumbled and fell over one of the on-the-floor section of the opposing force. They seized each other earnestly and rolled across the room till Mike, contriving to secure his adversary's head, bumped it on the floor with such abandon that, with a muffled yell, the other let go, and for the second time he rose. As he did so he was conscious of a curious thudding sound that made itself heard through the other assorted noises of the battle. All this time the fight had gone on in the blackest darkness, but now a light shone on the proceedings. Interested occupants of other dormitories, roused from their slumbers, had come to observe the sport. They were crowding in the doorway with a candle. By the light of this Mike got a swift view of the theatre of war. The enemy appeared to number five. The warrior whose head Mike had bumped on the floor was Robinson, who was sitting up feeling his skull in a gingerly fashion. To Mike's right, almost touching him, was Stone. In the direction of the door, Psmith, wielding in his right hand the cord of a dressing-gown, was engaging the remaining three with a patient smile. They were clad in pyjamas, and appeared to be feeling the dressing-gown cord acutely. The sudden light dazed both sides momentarily. The defence was the first to recover, Mike, with a swing, upsetting Stone, and Psmith, having seized and emptied Jellicoe's jug over Spiller, getting to work again with the cord in a manner that roused the utmost enthusiasm of

the spectators. [Illustration: PSMITH SEIZED AND EMPTIED JELLICOE'S JUG OVER SPILLER] Agility seemed to be the leading feature of Psmith's tactics. He was everywhere--on Mike's bed, on his own, on Jellicoe's (drawing a passionate complaint from that non-combatant, on whose face he inadvertently trod), on the floor--he ranged the room, sowing destruction. The enemy were disheartened; they had started with the idea that this was to be a surprise attack, and it was disconcerting to find the garrison armed at all points. Gradually they edged to the door, and a final rush sent them through. "Hold the door for a second," cried Psmith, and vanished. Mike was alone in the doorway. It was a situation which exactly suited his frame of mind; he stood alone in direct opposition to the community into which Fate had pitchforked him so abruptly. He liked the feeling; for the first time since his father had given him his views upon school reports that morning in the Easter holidays, he felt satisfied with life. He hoped, outnumbered as he was, that the enemy would come on again and not give the thing up in disgust; he wanted more. On an occasion like this there is rarely anything approaching concerted action on the part of the aggressors. When the attack came, it was not a combined attack; Stone, who was nearest to the door, made a sudden dash forward, and Mike hit him under the chin. Stone drew back, and there was another interval for rest and reflection. It was interrupted by the reappearance of Psmith, who strolled back along the passage swinging his dressing-gown cord as if it were some clouded cane. "Sorry to keep you waiting, Comrade Jackson," he said politely. "Duty called me elsewhere. With the kindly aid of a guide who knows the lie of the land, I have been making a short tour of the dormitories. I have poured divers jugfuls of water over Comrade Spiller's bed, Comrade Robinson's bed, Comrade Stone's--Spiller, Spiller, these are harsh words; where you pick them up I can't think--not from me. Well, well, I suppose there must be an end to the pleasantest of functions. Good-night, good-night." The door closed behind Mike and himself. For ten minutes shufflings and whisperings went on in the corridor, but nobody touched the handle. Then there was a sound of retreating footsteps, and silence reigned. On the following morning there was a notice on the house-board. It ran: INDOOR GAMES Dormitory-raiders are informed that in future neither Mr. Psmith nor Mr. Jackson will be at home to visitors.

This nuisance must now cease. R. PSMITH. M. JACKSON.

CHAPTER XXXVI ADAIR On the same morning Mike met Adair for the first time. He was going across to school with Psmith and Jellicoe, when a group of three came out of the gate of the house next door. "That's Adair," said Jellicoe, "in the middle." His voice had assumed a tone almost of awe. "Who's Adair?" asked Mike. "Captain of cricket, and lots of other things." Mike could only see the celebrity's back. He had broad shoulders and wiry, light hair, almost white. He walked well, as if he were used to running. Altogether a fit-looking sort of man. Even Mike's jaundiced eye saw that. As a matter of fact, Adair deserved more than a casual glance. He was that rare type, the natural leader. Many boys and men, if accident, or the passage of time, places them in a position where they are expected to lead, can handle the job without disaster; but that is a very different thing from being a born leader. Adair was of the sort that comes to the top by sheer force of character and determination. He was not naturally clever at work, but he had gone at it with a dogged resolution which had carried him up the school, and landed him high in the Sixth. As a cricketer he was almost entirely self-taught. Nature had given him a good eye, and left the thing at that. Adair's doggedness had triumphed over her failure to do her work thoroughly. At the cost of more trouble than most people give to their life-work he had made himself into a bowler. He read the authorities, and watched first-class players, and thought the thing out on his own account, and he divided the art of bowling into three sections. First, and most important--pitch. Second on the list--break. Third--pace. He set himself to acquire pitch. He acquired it. Bowling at his own pace and without any attempt at break, he could now drop the ball on an envelope seven times out of ten. Break was a more uncertain quantity. Sometimes he could get it at the expense of pitch, sometimes at the expense of pace. Some days he could get all three, and then he was an uncommonly bad man to face on anything but a plumb wicket. Running he had acquired in a similar manner. He had nothing approaching style, but he had twice won the mile and half-mile at the Sports off elegant runners, who knew all about stride and the correct timing of the sprints and all the rest of it.

Briefly, he was a worker. He had heart. A boy of Adair's type is always a force in a school. In a big public school of six or seven hundred, his influence is felt less; but in a small school like Sedleigh he is like a tidal wave, sweeping all before him. There were two hundred boys at Sedleigh, and there was not one of them in all probability who had not, directly or indirectly, been influenced by Adair. As a small boy his sphere was not large, but the effects of his work began to be apparent even then. It is human nature to want to get something which somebody else obviously values very much; and when it was observed by members of his form that Adair was going to great trouble and inconvenience to secure a place in the form eleven or fifteen, they naturally began to think, too, that it was worth being in those teams. The consequence was that his form always played hard. This made other forms play hard. And the net result was that, when Adair succeeded to the captaincy of football and cricket in the same year, Sedleigh, as Mr. Downing, Adair's house-master and the nearest approach to a cricket-master that Sedleigh possessed, had a fondness for saying, was a keen school. As a whole, it both worked and played with energy. All it wanted now was opportunity. This Adair was determined to give it. He had that passionate fondness for his school which every boy is popularly supposed to have, but which really is implanted in about one in every thousand. The average public-school boy _likes_ his school. He hopes it will lick Bedford at footer and Malvern at cricket, but he rather bets it won't. He is sorry to leave, and he likes going back at the end of the holidays, but as for any passionate, deep-seated love of the place, he would think it rather bad form than otherwise. If anybody came up to him, slapped him on the back, and cried, "Come along, Jenkins, my boy! Play up for the old school, Jenkins! The dear old school! The old place you love so!" he would feel seriously ill. Adair was the exception. To Adair, Sedleigh was almost a religion. Both his parents were dead; his guardian, with whom he spent the holidays, was a man with neuralgia at one end of him and gout at the other; and the only really pleasant times Adair had had, as far back as he could remember, he owed to Sedleigh. The place had grown on him, absorbed him. Where Mike, violently transplanted from Wrykyn, saw only a wretched little hole not to be mentioned in the same breath with Wrykyn, Adair, dreaming of the future, saw a colossal establishment, a public school among public schools, a lump of human radium, shooting out Blues and Balliol Scholars year after year without ceasing. It would not be so till long after he was gone and forgotten, but he did not mind that. His devotion to Sedleigh was purely unselfish. He did not want fame. All he worked for was that the school should grow and grow, keener and better at games and more prosperous year by year, till it should take its rank among _the_ schools, and to be an Old Sedleighan should be a badge passing its owner everywhere. "He's captain of cricket and footer," said Jellicoe impressively. "He's in the shooting eight. He's won the mile and half two years running. He would have boxed at Aldershot last term, only he sprained his wrist. And he plays fives jolly well!"

"Sort of little tin god," said Mike, taking a violent dislike to Adair from that moment. Mike's actual acquaintance with this all-round man dated from the dinner-hour that day. Mike was walking to the house with Psmith. Psmith was a little ruffled on account of a slight passage-of-arms he had had with his form-master during morning school. "'There's a P before the Smith,' I said to him. 'Ah, P. Smith, I see,' replied the goat. 'Not Peasmith,' I replied, exercising wonderful self-restraint, 'just Psmith.' It took me ten minutes to drive the thing into the man's head; and when I _had_ driven it in, he sent me out of the room for looking at him through my eye-glass. Comrade Jackson, I fear me we have fallen among bad men. I suspect that we are going to be much persecuted by scoundrels." "Both you chaps play cricket, I suppose?" They turned. It was Adair. Seeing him a pair of very bright blue eyes and a and mood he would have liked Adair at against all things Sedleighan was too shortly. "Haven't you _ever_ played?" "My little sister and I sometimes play with a soft ball at home." Adair looked sharply at him. A temper was evidently one of his numerous qualities. "Oh," he said. "Well, perhaps you wouldn't mind turning out this afternoon and seeing what you can do with a hard ball--if you can manage without your little sister." "I should think the form at this place would be about on a level with hers. But I don't happen to be playing cricket, as I think I told you." Adair's jaw grew squarer than ever. Mike was wearing a gloomy scowl. Psmith joined suavely in the dialogue. "My dear old comrades," he said, "don't let us brawl over this matter. This is a time for the honeyed word, the kindly eye, and the pleasant smile. Let me explain to Comrade Adair. Speaking for Comrade Jackson and myself, we should both be delighted to join in the mimic warfare of our National Game, as you suggest, only the fact is, we happen to be the Young Archaeologists. We gave in our names last night. When you are being carried back to the pavilion after your century against Loamshire--do you play Loamshire?--we shall be grubbing in the hard ground for ruined abbeys. The old choice between Pleasure and Duty, Comrade Adair. A Boy's Cross-Roads." "Then you won't play?" "No," said Mike. "Archaeology," said Psmith, with a deprecatory wave of the hand, "will face to face, Mike was aware of square jaw. In any other place sight. His prejudice, however, much for him. "I don't," he said

A short. sir. we went singing about the house. I was referring to the principle of the thing. I tell you I don't like it. I like every new boy to begin at once." "A very wild lot. The more new blood we have. sir. "I was not alluding to you in particular. wiry little man with a sharp nose and a general resemblance. We want keenness here." said Psmith. sir. eh?" It was a master." said Psmith. the Archaeological Society here. as one who perceives a loathly caterpillar in his salad." "I never loaf." said Psmith. It gets him into idle. and walked on. looking after him." "Good job. sir. shaking his head." "We are. When we heard that there was a society here. "Both you fellows are going to play cricket. I suppose you will both play. "I don't like it. probably smoking and going into low public-houses. We are." Adair turned. loafing habits. but I tell you frankly that in my opinion it is an abominable waste of time for a boy. Let's go on and see what sort ." said Mr. "Excellent." He stumped off. I suppose I can't hinder you. "I saw Adair speaking to you. A boy ought to be playing cricket with other boys. "I'm afraid we're getting ourselves disliked here." sighed Psmith. when another voice hailed them with precisely the same question. with fervour. sir. I fear. "Now _he's_ cross.brook no divided allegiance from her devotees." "I call it an unnatural pursuit for boys." Mr. Outwood last night. nothing else. I want every boy to be keen. Downing--for it was no less a celebrity--started. too. Downing vehemently. "Archaeology!" "We gave in our names to Mr. a keen school. "If you choose to waste your time. Comrade Outwood loves us." "On archaeology. not wandering at large about the country. to an excitable bullfinch. the better. Archaeology is a passion with us." "At any rate. Scarcely had he gone. It is not for me to interfere with one of my colleagues on the staff. But in my opinion it is foolery. both in manner and appearance. above all.

the head of Outwood's. Outwood must have been as a boy--but he knew how to keep balls out of his wicket. was a mild. "I _will_ be good. It was on a Thursday afternoon. Mike soon saw that cricket was by no means an unknown art at Sedleigh. Any sort of a game. Stone and Robinson themselves. rather timid-looking youth--not unlike what Mr. but Burgess was the only Wrykyn bowler whom. and let me feel a bat in my hands again. Lead me to the nearest net. Adair. and Wyatt. and he caught sight of white flannels on a green ground. by the law of averages. after . I was in the Wrykyn team three years. that Sedleigh cricket was not the childish burlesque of the game which he had been rash enough to assume that it must be. who now treated Mike and Psmith with cold but consistent politeness. He was not a Burgess. was a very good bowler indeed." CHAPTER XXXVII MIKE FINDS OCCUPATION There was more than one moment during the first fortnight of term when Mike found himself regretting the attitude he had imposed upon himself with regard to Sedleighan cricket._ the Second Eleven of a Home of Rest for Centenarians would have soothed him. What made it worse was that he saw. and Stone was a good slow bowler. And now he positively ached for a game. In the first flush of his resentment against his new surroundings he had refused to play cricket. Barnes. They only make the presence of good cricketers more likely. but there were some quite capable men. when he felt like rushing to Adair and shouting. in his three years' experience of the school. mostly in Downing's house. An innings for a Kindergarten _v. It couldn't be done. Mike would have placed above him. He was a good bat of the old plodding type. and heard the "plonk" of bat striking ball. that swash-buckling pair. he who preferred not to interfere with Stone and Robinson.of a lunch that large-hearted fossil-fancier is going to give us. after watching behind the nets once or twice. and the others who had taken wickets for Wrykyn. * * * * * One solitary overture Mike made during that first fortnight. He began to realise the eternal truth of the proverb about half a loaf and no bread. There were other exponents of the game. Altogether. and had an average of over fifty the last two seasons. to begin with. quite worthy colleagues even for a man who had been a star at Wrykyn. were both fair batsmen. There were times. when the sun shone. He was a long way better than Neville-Smith. and Milton. The batting was not so good." But every time he shrank from such a climb down. Numbers do not make good cricket. He did not repeat the experiment.

and was trying not to show it. "What?" he said. even though they carried with them the privilege of listening to Psmith's views on life. which calls to one like the very voice of the game. Mr." said Adair coldly. And I never want to see another putrid fossil in my life." it may be observed. and he patronised ruins. Mike walked away without a word. Adair was taking off his pads after his innings. was the first eleven net. Mike. He went up to Adair. to be absolutely accurate. It was not always possible to slip away from the throng. The natural result was that his manner was offensively abrupt. He was amiable. but patronising. from increased embarrassment. The day was warm. More abruptly this time. * * * * * The Archaeological Society expeditions. his brow "sicklied o'er with the pale cast of care. "by the docility of our demeanour. He patronised fossils. "This net. but freshened by an almost imperceptible breeze. Psmith's attitude towards archaeological research struck a new note in the history of that neglected science. Psmith. proved but a poor substitute for cricket. as he sat there watching. "Having inspired confidence. for Mr. Roman camps. let us slip away. Outwood and his band were pecking away at the site of an old Roman camp. who looked as if he were taking his first lesson at the game. "May I have an innings at this net?" he asked." But Psmith followed his leader with the pleased and indulgent air of a father whose infant son is showing him round the garden. He looked up. where frenzied novices were bowling on a corrugated pitch to a red-haired youth with enormous feet. "Go in after Lodge over there. and brood apart for awhile. The air was full of the scent of the cut grass which lay in little heaps behind the nets. He was embarrassed and nervous. Mike on these occasions was silent and jumpy. If he had been confronted with the Great This is the real cricket scent." "Over there" was the end net. Mike repeated his request. could stand it no longer." he said. Outwood evidently looked upon them as among the very faithful. but Mike almost cried sometimes from boredom. That this was not altogether a genuine thirst was proved on the third expedition. Let us find some shady nook where a . who had no counter-attraction shouting to him that he ought to be elsewhere. "This is the first eleven net. seemed to enjoy them hugely. he would have patronised that. and kept them by his aide. He seemed to be consumed by a thirst for knowledge. Psmith approached Mike. give me the pip.

I can tell you." he said. he got up. it is as well not to stop in order that you may get to understand each other. and they strolled away down the hill. unless you have anything important to say. with his head against a mossy tree-stump. In this busy life of ours these naps by the wayside are invaluable. and began to bark vigorously at him. "I was just having a look round. over whom the proceedings connected with the Roman camp had long since begun to shed a blue depression. hitching up the knees of his trousers. But now there seemed a lack of dignity in the action. "Thus far." They had passed through a gate into the field beyond. Ah. Their departure had passed unnoticed. but he could not place him. you seem to be a bit of a free forester yourself. "And. He was too late. and closed his eyes. dancing in among my . and then. In fact." "The dickens you--Why. He had not gone many yards when a dog emerged suddenly from the undergrowth. and sitting down. dashed bad for the knees of the trousers. you're Jackson!" Mike looked at him. It's a great grief to a man of refinement. they always liked him. "Stop! What the dickens are you doing here?" shouted a voice behind him. Mike sat on for a few minutes. and listen to the music of the brook. and." Mike. We will rest here awhile. Mine are like some furrowed field." And Psmith. offered no opposition. they saw that the archaeologists were still hard at it. shaded by trees and running with a pleasant sound over pebbles. Comrade Jackson. jumped the brook. In passing. I rather think I'll go to sleep. and began to explore the wood on the other side. He came back to where the man was standing. lay down. He was a short. listening to the water and making centuries in his mind. "A fatiguing pursuit. Mike liked dogs. "I played against you. At the further end there was a brook. But when you meet a dog in some one else's wood. "I'm sorry if I'm trespassing. "and no farther. Mike would have carried may lie on his back for a bit. finding this a little dull. Looking back. and trusted to speed to save him." said Psmith. on acquaintance. Call me in about an hour. this looks a likely spot." said Psmith. Mike began to thread his way back through the trees. for the Free Foresters last summer. Mike knew that he had seen him before somewhere. this grubbing for mementoes of the past. heaving the comfortable sigh of the worker who by toil has earned rest. In the same situation a few years before. broad young man with a fair moustache. above all.

we can't give you a Wrykyn wicket." "Don't rake up forgotten tragedies." "Get any cricket?" asked Mike." "I'll give you all you want. It's just off the London road. how are you off for cricket now? Have you ever got a spare afternoon?" Mike's heart leaped. How is it you're not at Wrykyn? What are you doing down here?" "I've left Wrykyn. "Only village." Prendergast suddenly changed the conversation. You're Prendergast. you see. What you'd better do is to ride straight to Lower Borlock--that's the name of the place--and I'll meet you on the ground." "That's all right." "I'll lend you everything. By the way. get on to my bike--I've got it down here--and meet you anywhere you liked. I'll tell you how it is. I do a little farming and a good deal of pottering about. turning to the subject next his heart." "I'll play on a rockery." "Thanks." he concluded. We all start out together. only cover dropped it. I say." said Mike. I was afraid the only thing you would remember about me was that you took a century mostly off my bowling. but I could nip back. Very keen." "I'm frightfully sorry." "You ought to have had me second ball. Any one will tell you where Lower Borlock is. "I hang out down here. * * * * * . Where do you spring from?" "Of course--I remember you now. There's a sign-post where you turn off. "So. "Any Wednesday or Saturday." And he told how matters stood with him. The Lower Borlock pitch isn't a shirt-front. it is not always tactful to inquire the reason. I can hardly keep my hands off a bat. Look here. if you want me to. By Jove. you know. He began to talk about himself. When a fellow tells you that he has left school unexpectedly. I'm simply dying for a game. but no great shakes.nesting pheasants. You made fifty-eight not out. I suppose you can fix me up with a bat and pads? I don't want to bring mine. Can you come next Saturday?" "Rather. "I'm supposed to be hunting for ruins and things"--Mike's ideas on the subject of archaeology were vague--"but I could always slip away.

will you? I don't want it to get about."You're going to what?" asked Psmith. and it grew with further acquaintance. don't tell a soul. To Mr. I think I'll come and watch you. Downing was all that a master ought not to be. M. The two lived in a state of simmering hostility. Mike began. indeed. Downing was rather strong on the healthy boy." One of the most acute of these crises. in that it was the direct cause of Mike's appearance in Sedleigh cricket. CHAPTER XXXVIII THE FIRE BRIGADE MEETING Cricket is the great safety-valve. to enjoy himself. I'll borrow Jellicoe's bicycle. life can never be entirely grey. It was not Wrykyn." "My lips are sealed. which usually resulted in Lower Borlock having to play some unskilled labourer in place of their star batsman. To Mike. Lower Borlock smote the men of Chidford hip and thigh. By bad luck it was in his form that Mike had been placed on arrival. "I'm going to play cricket. Just as you had to join the Archaeological Society to secure the . and his average for Lower Borlock reached the fifties and stayed there. and Mr." * * * * * That Saturday. his pet hobby and the apple of his eye. The only really considerable element making for discomfort now was Mr. but it was a very decent substitute. As time went on. It may be remembered that this well-supported institution was under Mr. but watching cricket is one of the finest of Britain's manly sports. I say. Mike was simply an unamiable loafer. and the most important. If you like the game. had to do with the third weekly meeting of the School Fire Brigade. Downing. for a village near here. Downing's special care. Jackson. Downing. employed doing "over-time. It was. Cricket I dislike. on being awakened and told the news. proved more than usually difficult in his dealings with Mike. who did nothing for the school and apparently had none of the instincts which should be implanted in the healthy boy. sleepily. Mr. and are in a position to play it at least twice a week. punctuated at intervals by crises. pompous. never an easy form-master to get on with. Mr. and openly influenced in his official dealings with his form by his own private likes and dislikes. They had taken a dislike to each other at their first meeting. fussy. or I may get lugged in to play for the school. Downing. though he would not have admitted it. Their victory was due to a hurricane innings of seventy-five by a new-comer to the team.

was a young bull-terrier belonging to Mr. We will now proceed to the painful details. with green stripes. Wilson. couldn't we have a uniform for the Brigade?" "A uniform?" Mr. about thirty in all. light-hearted dog with a white coat. much in request during French lessons. Downing had closed the minute-book. Downing's form-room. a tenor voice. To-day they were in very fair form. The proceedings always began in the same way. In passing. who. Outwood. "One moment. spirit. and was apparently made of india-rubber. had joined young and worked their way up. by the reading of the minutes of the last meeting. Downing pondered "Red. If it is possible for a man to have two apples of his eye. Stone and Robinson. Sammy. and under the captain a vice-captain. an engaging expression. held up his hand. so to become a member of the Fire Brigade was a safe passport to the regard of Mr. After that the entertainment varied according to whether the members happened to be fertile or not in ideas for the disturbing of the peace. having perceived at a very early date the gorgeous opportunities for ragging which the Brigade offered to its members. of Outwood's house. short for Sampson. Wilson?" "Please. The rest were entirely frivolous. To show a keenness for cricket was good. At this point it is as well to introduce Sammy to the reader. Downing. and a manner which was a happy blend of hurricane and circular saw. At its head was Mr. sir. with a thin green stripe. was the Sedleigh colour. Sammy was the other. the Wrykynian being always a firm ally of every dog he met after two minutes' acquaintance. * * * * * The meetings of the Fire Brigade were held after school in Mr. "Shall I put it to the vote. He had long legs. but to join the Fire Brigade was best of all. of the School House. sir?" asked Stone. As soon as Mr. Sammy was a great favourite in the school. of whom perhaps seven were earnest workers. "Well.esteem of Mr. The Brigade was carefully organised. Stone. Under them were the rank and file. a sort of high priest. Downing. the tongue of an ant-eater. sir. or Downing. These two officials were those sportive allies. Jellicoe owned a clock-work rat. and a particular friend of Mike's. who looked on the Brigade in the right. under him was a captain. The weekly meetings were always full of life and excitement. He was a large." Red. Downing." .

listen to me. get back to your place. and it would be just as good as a helmet for all the timbers that are likely to fall on our heads. the motion is carried by twenty-five votes to six. Mr. a slamming of desk-lids and an upset blackboard. "I don't think my people would be pleased. "Silence! Silence!! Silence!!! Helmets are. sir. if they knew I was going out to fires without a helmet. We cannot plunge into needless expense. and the meeting had divided. Stone." "Oo-oo-oo-oo. out of the question. sir. sir. sir. the falling timbers!" The Fire Brigade had been in action once and once only in the memory of man. those against it to the right. sir. Well." said Stone. sir. Downing banged on his desk. of course. and that time it was a haystack which had burnt itself out just as the rescuers had succeeded in fastening the hose to the hydrant. sir-r-r!" "But. sir." "Please." "Please. Wilson?" "Please." A scuffling of feet." . sit down--Wilson. sir. sir-r-r!" "Be _quiet!_ Entirely out of the question. Stone. The whole strength of the company: "Please. couldn't we have an honour cap? It wouldn't be expensive. may I go and get measured this evening?" "Please. "Sit down!" he said. of course. may we have helmets?" "Very useful as a protection against falling timbers. please. sir----" "Si-_lence_! The idea of a uniform is. perfectly preposterous. may we have helmets?" "Those in favour--" began Stone. I cannot have this noise and disturbance! Another time when a point arises it must be settled by a show of hands." said Robinson. "sit down! I won't have this noise and disturbance." "Oo-oo-oo-oo. Mr."Those in favour of the motion move to the left. sir. the danger!" "Please. Downing rapped irritably on his desk. "Silence!" "Then.

"do me one hundred lines. sir?" inquired Mike. "Don't be absurd!" snapped Mr. "It's outside the door. I think." he said. sir!" "This moment. Those near enough to see. "May I fetch a book from my desk. He was not alone. "Noise. as if somebody were being prevented from uttering them by a hand laid over his mouth. Downing smiled a wry smile. Downing. "I tell you I deplore it! It is not right! If this Fire Brigade is to be of solid use. sir! I wasn't facetious! Or couldn't we have footer-tops. sir-r-r. The sufferer appeared to have a high voice. mingled with cries half-suppressed." "Are you making that whining noise?" "Whining noise. There was a tap at the door and Mike walked in. "Sir." A pained "OO-oo-oo. Downing proceeded to improve the occasion. Downing. "Very well--be quick." was cut off by the closing door. "A bird. we are busy. sir. I want you boys above all to be keen. I'm not making a whining noise. saw that he was accompanied by Jellicoe's clock-work rat. as many Wrykynians . sir?" said a voice "off. Mr. sir? No. _please_. puzzled. And. there must be less of this flippancy. "Our Wilson is facetious. which moved rapidly over the floor in the direction of the opposite wall. no. Jackson. We must have keenness. "I deplore this growing spirit of flippancy. "I think it's something outside the window. Wilson!" "Yes. "What--is--that--noise?" shrilled Mr. sir. sir?" asked Mike." said Robinson. leave the room!" "Sir." said Stone helpfully." as he reached the door." he remarked frostily. sir?" asked Mike. like the first fifteen have? They----" "Wilson. The muffled cries grew more distinct." Being interrupted in one of his addresses to the Brigade irritated Mr.Mr. Downing. Wilson. I--What is that noise?" From the other side of the door proceeded a sound like water gurgling from a bottle." "What _sort_ of noise. sir.

remain. Downing shot out orders. all of you." said Mr. The banging on Mr. Durand! Don't shuffle your feet in that abominable way. Come in. you will be severely punished. The twenty-three members of the Brigade who were not earnest instantly dealt with the situation. "to imitate the noise." added Robinson. and the india-rubber form of Sammy bounded into the room like an excited kangaroo. "A rat!" shouted Robinson. Henderson. sir. It was a stirring. among the ruins barking triumphantly. Downing acidly. rising from his place. What are you doing. Downing.had asked before him. like Marius. others flung books." "Yes. if you do not sit down. Chaos reigned. one hundred lines for gross disorder! Windham. threats. I said. was just in time to see Sammy with a last leap spring on his prey and begin worrying it. "Don't shout at me from the corridor like that." put in Stone. sir!" As he spoke the muffled whining changed suddenly to a series of tenor shrieks." "It may be one of the desks squeaking." said the invisible Wilson." "They are mowing the cricket field." Crash! . "I do not propose. Downing's desk resembled thunder. sir. bustling scene. sir?" bellowed the unseen one." "Or somebody's boots. "Perhaps that's it. It was a question invented by Wrykyn for use in just such a case as this. It rose above all the other noises till in time they gave up the competition and died away. "Silence! Wilson?" "Yes. and pointed it up the alley-way between the two rows of desks. each in the manner that seemed proper to him. Mr. "They do sometimes. and penalties with the rapidity of a Maxim gun. Mr. _Quietly_. It is a curious whining noise. and was now standing. Sammy had by this time disposed of the clock-work rat. Willing hands had by this time deflected the clockwork rat from the wall to which it had been steering. all shouted. Vincent. Jackson and Wilson. you can all hear it perfectly plainly. the same! Go to your seat. Some leaped on to forms. sir. Broughton-Knight? I will not have this disgraceful noise and disorder! The meeting is at an end. sit down! Donovan. "Stone. go quietly from the room.

Wilson had supplied the rat. Downing that the burden of sin was shared equally by both culprits. In affairs of this kind a master has a habit of getting the last word. but it may teach you that we have no room at Sedleigh for boys who spend their time loafing about and making themselves a nuisance. "One hundred lines." Mike removed the yelling Sammy and shut the door on him." said Wilson." "I tried to collar him. Wilson. CHAPTER XXXIX ACHILLES LEAVES HIS TENT . Downing walked out of the room. What's the meaning of this disgraceful conduct? Put that dog out of the room. Go quietly from the room. too. Mr. Downing liked Wilson and disliked Mike. I distinctly saw you upset that black-board with a movement of your hand--one hundred lines. Jackson. and had refused to play cricket." he said." said Mike." And Mr. That will do. Mike was a member of the Archaeological Society. so he came in. Jackson. come here. "You may go. everybody. it will interfere with your Archaeological studies. and paid very little for it. I was playing with a clock-work rat----" "What business have you to be playing with clock-work rats?" "Then I remembered. "Jackson and Wilson." Wilson departed with the air of a man who has had a great deal of fun. sir. Mike the dog."Wolferstan. Jackson. Mr. Also he kept wicket for the school. but when you told me to come in. "You will stay in on Saturday afternoon. Downing turned to Mike. and he came in after the rat. Wilson?" "Please. as one who tells of strange things. frivolous at times. but nevertheless a member. "that I had left my Horace in my desk. so I came in----" "And by a fluke. I fear. Wilson was in the Fire Brigade. We are a keen school." "I met Sammy on the gravel outside and he followed me. this is no place for boys who do nothing but waste their time." The meeting dispersed." It was plain to Mr. sir. Downing allowed these facts to influence him in passing sentence. "the rat happened to be pointing in the same direction. it was true. "Well. I had to let him go. sir. but Mr.

by return of post. Stone in Psmith' s deck-chair. and only the previous week had made a century against Sussex. He felt that he. Being kept in on Saturday meant that he would be unable to turn out for Little Borlock against Claythorpe. so might be expected to be in a sufficiently softened mood to advance the needful. If Stone and Robinson wanted battle. sorry.) Mike was struggling with the opening sentences of this letter--he was never a very ready writer--when Stone and Robinson burst into the room. and disappeared in a cloud of gratitude. But the motives of the expedition were obviously friendly. asked for the loan of a sovereign. he did. The fact is. they should have it. They were just ordinary raggers of the type found at every . In the previous game he had scored ninety-eight. Mike's heart warmed to them. and got up. do you mind if I don't tell you? I don't want to tell anybody. The little disturbance in the dormitory was a thing of the past. and. after the Sammy incident. he would be practically penniless for weeks. Mike felt that Fate was treating him badly. Robinson was laughing. Robinson on the table. nothing much wrong with Stone and Robinson. "As a matter of fact. Stone and Robinson must learn to know and appreciate one another. (Which. But it's about all I have got. who was playing regularly for the 'Varsity this season." said Robinson. I do happen to have a quid. contemporary with Julius Caesar. done with. as a matter of fact. Stone beamed. so don't be shy about paying it back." Jellicoe was profuse in his thanks. You can freeze on to it." "Oh. "I say. and welcomed the intrusion. without preamble. Having to yield a sovereign to Jellicoe--why on earth did the man want all that?--meant that. In a gloomy frame of mind he sat down to write to Bob. When one has been in the habit of confining one's lendings and borrowings to sixpences and shillings. "What did he give you?" asked Stone. unless a carefully worded letter to his brother Bob at Oxford had the desired effect. forgotten. if you like. There was. "You're a sportsman. it may be stated at once. "What on earth for?" asked Mike. the return match. He was in warlike mood. As Mike sat brooding over his wrongs in his study. and there was a lob bowler in the Claythorpe ranks whom he was particularly anxious to meet again.They say misfortunes never come singly. a request for a sovereign comes as something of a blow. They sat down. Mike put down his pen. I'm in a beastly hole." said Mike. Jellicoe came into the room.

why don't you have a shot? We aren't such flyers here. treading on the toes of their neighbour and shoving him off the pavement. loud and boisterous. either from pure high spirits or as a punishment for some slip from the narrow path which the ideal small boy should tread. "Those Fire Brigade meetings. and a vast store of animal spirits. "Well. Winifred's" brand. he now found them pleasant company. regarded Stone and Robinson as bullies of the genuine "Eric" and "St. Adair had a smouldering dislike for them." said Stone. The Stones and Robinsons are the swashbucklers of the school world. above all. "What a beastly swindle!" "That's because you don't play cricket. but apt not to take Sedleigh as seriously as he could have wished.'" quoted Stone." "Don't you!" said Mike. Old Downing lets you do what you like if you join the Fire Brigade and play cricket. He got a hundred lines. They were useful at cricket. "Were you sacked?" "No." said Mike. They go about. Small boys whom they had occasion to kick. As to the kind of adventure." "Why on earth did you leave?" asked Stone. small and large. One's opinion of this type of youth varies according to one's point of view. "are a rag. to the mutual advantage of themselves and the rest of the community. and always with an eye wide open for any adventure. Masters were rather afraid of them. and began to get out the tea-things. they are not particular so long as it promises excitement. They looked on school life purely as a vehicle for ragging. They were absolutely free from brain. If you know one end of a bat from the other." "What!" "Is Wilson in too?" "No. More often they run up against a snag in the shape of some serious-minded and muscular person who objects to having his toes trodden on and being shoved off the pavement. and you never get more than a hundred lines. Were you at school anywhere before you came here?" "I was at Wrykyn. "Don't you ever play?" "I have played a bit. As for Mike." . "I got Saturday afternoon.public school. They had a certain amount of muscle. Sometimes they go through their whole school career without accident. You can do what you like." Stone and Robinson were quite concerned. and then they usually sober down." "'We are. you could get into some sort of a team. My pater took me away. a keen school. with a whole-hearted and cheerful indifference to other people's feelings.

I say. "Why. Stone gaped. do play. I play for a village near here. and I should have been captain this year. To-morrow's Mid-term Service day." said Stone." "What!" "Well. if I'd stopped on. Downing always turns out on Mid-term Service day."Wrykyn?" said Robinson." "Masters don't play in house matches. Then the rest of the day's a whole holiday. "Why don't you? They're always sticking on side because they've won the house cup three years running. and Robinson nearly dropped his tea-cup." There was a profound and gratifying sensation. It's nowhere near the middle of the term. "Enough for six. "Why. "By Jove. Why?" Robinson rocked on the table. look here. why aren't you playing? Why don't you play now?" "I do. Only a friendly. A man who played against Wrykyn for the Free Foresters captains them. and the others?" "Brother. Stone broke the silence. My word. There are always house matches. "But I mean to say--look here! What I mean is. do you bat or bowl?" "Bat. Place called Little Borlock. He asked me if I'd like some games for them. "I've got an idea." "Think of the rag." agreed Robinson. for a start. Why don't you play and let's smash them?" "By Jove." said Robinson. I was in the team three years." "Adair sticks on side." . "Are you any relation of the Jacksons there--J." said Mike. "I did. but they always have it in the fourth week. I say. and knock the cover off him." said Stone. didn't you play at all there?" "Yes. old Downing fancies himself as a bowler. what a rag!" "What's wrong now?" inquired Mike politely. We're playing Downing's. yes. There's chapel at half-past nine till half-past ten." "But why not for the school?" "Why should I? It's much better fun for the village. surely?" "This isn't a real house match. You don't get ordered about by Adair. W. You _must_ play.

"then--er--will you play against Downing's to-morrow?" "Rather. Most leap at the opportunity. I was in the team. that the seeds of your eloquence have fallen on fruitful soil and sprouted. then. Mr. Then footsteps returning down the passage. "is it true? Or is Stone rotting? About Wrykyn. JACKSON."But the team's full." Barnes was an enthusiastic cricketer. Only the very self-controlled can refrain from improving the occasion and scoring off the convert. on his face the look of one who has seen visions. WHO HAD AN AVERAGE OF FIFTY-ONE POINT NOUGHT THREE LAST YEAR?"] "Yes. "Are you the M. I mean. Downing he had the outward aspect of one. . When you have been impressing upon a non-cricketing boy for nearly a month that (_a_) the school is above all a keen school. THEN. He studied his _Wisden_. "The list isn't up yet." "Yes. and (_c_) that by not playing cricket he is ruining his chances in this world and imperilling them in the next. wearing cricket boots and carrying a cricket bag." he said. Jackson. Downing assumed it. who had an average of fifty-one point nought three last year?" [Illustration: "ARE YOU THE M. "I say." he said. but to Mr. Barnes appeared." said Mike. (_b_) that all members of it should play cricket. Mike was not a genuine convert." said Mike. and when." Barnes's manner became like that of a curate talking to a bishop. and make him alter it. From down the passage Mike heard yells of "_Barnes_!" the closing of a door." They dashed out of the room. It was so in Mike's case. you come upon this boy dressed in cricket flannels. and a murmur of excited conversation. Have some tea?" CHAPTER XL THE MATCH WITH DOWNING'S It is the curious instinct which prompts most people to rub a thing in that makes the lot of the average convert an unhappy one. "Thanks awfully. We'll nip across to Barnes' study. quite unexpectedly. it seems only natural to assume that you have converted him. "I say. and he had an immense respect for Wrykyn cricket.

2 manner--the playful. Mike saw. "I like to see it. and which never failed to ruffle Mr. We are essentially versatile. took charge of the affair with a languid grace which had maddened hundreds in its time. could not have looked anything but a cricketer if he had turned out in a tweed suit and hobnail boots. It is the right spirit. and the Selection Committee unfortunately passed me over." * * * * * There were a number of pitches dotted about over the field." "Indeed. was absolutely undistinguishable from the surrounding turf. nobody suspects that he is really a prodigy till he hits the Bully's first ball out of the ground for six. "Our Jackson clad in suit of mail and armed for the fray!" This was Mr. The latter's reformation had dated from that moment. contrives to get an innings in a game. sir. "This is indeed Saul among the prophets. Adair had infected the ground-man with some of his own keenness." said Psmith earnestly. except for the creases. "What!" he cried. Jackson. as captain of cricket. the archaeologist of yesterday. and the request that Mike would go in first with him. Your enthusiasm has bounds. working really hard. * * * * * Barnes. in the way he took . Why this sudden enthusiasm for a game which I understood that you despised? Are our opponents so reduced?" Psmith. had naturally selected the best for his own match. Drones are not welcomed by us. on the cricket field. Cricketer was written all over him--in his walk. It was a good wicket. who has been found crying in the boot-room over the photograph of his sister. Mike. "a keen house. With Mike it was different. At the beginning of the previous season Sedleigh had played a scratch team from a neighbouring town on a wicket which.He was walking to the field with Adair and another member of his team when he came upon Mike. Downing. came up to Mike with the news that he had won the toss. with a kind of mild surprise. Downing's No. In stories of the "Not Really a Duffer" type." "In our house. Smith? You are not playing yourself. and behind the pavilion after the match Adair had spoken certain home truths to the ground-man. with the result that that once-leisurely official now found himself sometimes. There was no pitying smile on Adair's face as he started his run preparatory to sending down the first ball. sir. As a matter of fact the wickets at Sedleigh were nearly always good. who was with Mike. above all. sir." he said. Adair. I notice. becomes the cricketer of to-day. timidly jubilant. competition is fierce. for there was always a touch of the London Park about it on Mid-term Service day. where the nervous new boy. "We are.

Mr. He was more than usually anxious to make runs to-day. He had got a sight of the ball now. The first over was a maiden. gave a jump. This time the hope was fulfilled. failed to stop it. Downing's slows. took three more short steps. It was returned on the instalment system by helpers from other games. Mike started cautiously. and hit it a couple of feet from the ground. The ball. during which the ball emerged from behind his back and started on its slow career to the wicket. It was generally anticipated that he would do something special with them. slow. The last ball he turned to leg for a single. subtly blended with the careless vigour of a cake-walk. but the programme was subject to alterations. two long steps. A half-volley this time. Downing was a bowler with a style of his own. and he knew that he was good. Adair started to bowl with the feeling that this was somebody who had more than a little knowledge of how to deal with good bowling and punish bad. Downing irritably. and ended with a combination of step and jump. He played the over through with a grace worthy of his brother Joe. and off the wicket on the on-side. Mike took guard. "Get to them. Off the first ball of the master's over a leg-bye was run. quite a large crowd had collected near the pavilion to watch. and he meant to take no risks till he could afford to do so. six dangerous balls beautifully played. The general interest had now settled on the match between Outwood's and Downing's. Downing started his minuet-cake-walk. The ball was well up. and there was a popular desire to see how he would deal with Mr. and dashed up against the rails. Mike's masterly treatment of the opening over had impressed the spectators. Perhaps if it had been allowed to pitch. The crowd was now reluctantly dispersing to its own games. it might have broken in and become quite dangerous. Mike slammed it back. Half-way through the over a beautiful square cut forced a passage through the crowd by the pavilion. in his stand at the wickets. in the hope that it might see something more sensational. He had seen Adair bowl at the nets. Jenkins. they were disappointed. whose heart was obviously not in the thing. The ball dropped with a thud and a spurting of dust in the road that ran along one side of the cricket field. The fact in Mike's case had gone round the field. If the spectators had expected Mike to begin any firework effects with the first ball. as several of the other games had not yet begun. and mid-on. and the bowler began his manoeuvres again. His treatment of Adair's next over was freer. when delivered." said Mr. but it stopped as Mr. He drove the sixth ball past cover for three. Mike went out at it.guard. He took two short steps. as the ball came . The fieldsmen changed over. was billed to break from leg. The whole business had some of the dignity of the old-fashioned minuet. and.

in Adair's fifth over. sat on the splice like a limpet. Downing. When a slow bowler starts to bowl fast. "Get to them. By the time the over was finished. was not out at lunch time with a score of eleven. there was a strong probability that Mr. he missed Barnes--the first occasion since the game began on which that mild batsman had attempted to score more than a single. The expected happened. and Mike. * * * * * As Mike was taking off his pads in the pavilion. in addition. and. waited in position for number four. A description of the details of the morning's play would be monotonous. Outwood's captain shrank back into his shell. The third ball was a slow long-hop. And a shrill small voice. and bowling well. please. His whole idea now was to bowl fast. His run lost its stateliness and increased its vigour. There are moments when a sort of panic seizes a bowler. it is usually as well to be batting. Downing would pitch his next ball short. It is enough to say that they ran on much the same lines as the third and fourth overs of the match. one is inclined to be abrupt. Mr. uttered with painful distinctness the words. This happened now with Mr. Mike's score had been increased by sixteen. Downing bowled one more over. by three wides. "Why did you say you didn't play cricket?" he asked abruptly. Then he looked up. Mike had then made a hundred and three. off which Mike helped himself to sixteen runs. Adair came up. and hit the road at about the same spot where the first had landed. Jenkins. offering no more chances. "Take him off!" That was how the most sensational day's cricket began that Sedleigh had known. sir----" "Don't talk in the field. with the feeling that this sort of bowling was too good to be true.back from the boundary. A howl of untuneful applause rose from the watchers in the pavilion. [Illustration: "WHY DID YOU SAY YOU DIDN'T PLAY CRICKET?" HE ASKED] When one has been bowling the whole morning. if you can manage it. ." Having had a full-pitch hit for six and a half-volley for four. and the total of his side. from the neighbourhood of the pavilion. Scared by this escape. Mike finished unfastening an obstinate strap. without the slightest success. and then retired moodily to cover-point. He suddenly abandoned science and ran amok. where." "Sir. He charged up to the wicket as a wounded buffalo sometimes charges a gun.

won't they?" suggested Barnes. Three years. had acquired a good deal of unpopularity. "Declare!" said Robinson. Can't you see that by a miracle we've got a chance of getting a jolly good bit of our own back against those Downing's ticks? What we've got to do is to jolly well keep them in the field all day if we ." said Stone. The result was that not only he himself. they had better think of declaring somewhere about half-past three or four. There's a difference. I was in the Wrykyn team before I came here. On occasions when boys in his own house and boys from other houses were accomplices and partners in wrong-doing." There was a silence. "Will you play for us against the Old Sedleighans to-morrow?" he said at length. Barnes's remark that he supposed. politely. Not up to it. am I?" said Mike. they would be fools not to make the most of the situation. And the dislike deepens if it is a house which he favours and not merely individuals. Of all masters. was met with a storm of opposition. what on earth are you talking about?" "Declare!" Stone's voice was almost a wail of indignation. Mike tossed his pads into his bag and got up." "They'll be rather sick if we don't." Adair was silent for a moment. "No. It had been that master's somewhat injudicious practice for many years to treat his own house as a sort of Chosen People. I said I wasn't going to play here. Downing. the most unpopular is he who by the silent tribunal of a school is convicted of favouritism. Downing distributed his thunderbolts unequally. The general consensus of opinion in Outwood's during the luncheon interval was that. and the school noticed it. but also--which was rather unfair--his house. "I'm not keeping you. unless anything happened and wickets began to fall a bit faster. "I never saw such a chump. Mr. "Above it. It was remarkable what a number of members of Outwood's house appeared to cherish a personal grudge against Mr. too. "That's just the gay idea. "Then you won't play?" asked Adair. I shall want a lot of coaching at that end net of yours before I'm fit to play for Sedleigh. "Sick! I should think they would. As a matter of fact. "Great Scott." There was another pause. having got Downing's up a tree. I suppose?" "Not a bit. thanks."I didn't say anything of the kind.

In no previous Sedleigh match. going in first early in the morning. mercifully. after a full day's play. and that is what happened now. smote lustily at a rather wide half-volley and was caught at short-slip for thirty-three. He retired blushfully to the pavilion. At four o'clock. and his first half-dozen overs had to be watched carefully. But the wicket was too good to give him a chance. I won't then. or when one is out without one's gun. If they lose about a dozen pounds each through sweating about in the sun after Jackson's drives. and Stone came out. if I can get it. generally breaks up a big stand at cricket before the field has suffered too much. Time. Adair pounded away at one end with brief intervals between the attacks. Change-bowlers of various actions and paces. Big scores had often been put up on Mid-term Service day. had the pathetic words "Did not bat" been written against the whole of one of the contending teams. the closure would be applied and their ordeal finished. had neither completed its innings nor declared it closed when stumps were drawn at 6. was bowling really well." said Stone with a wide grin. Downing took a couple more overs. "They'll be a lot sicker before we've finished. and Mike. The first-change pair are poor. The bowling of a house team is all head and no body. the small change. it was assumed by the field.15." said Robinson. Bowlers came and went. playing himself in again. The first pair probably have some idea of length and break." "Rather not. I want an innings against that bilge of old Downing's.can. when the score stood at two hundred and twenty for no wicket." "Don't you worry about that." "So do I. each weirder and more futile than the last. Adair. perhaps they'll stick on less side about things in general in future. As Mike had then made a hundred and eighty-seven. "Only you know they're rather sick already. amidst applause. Games had frequently been one-sided. And the rest. nearly had its useful life cut suddenly short." And so it came about that that particular Mid-term Service-day match made history. But still the first-wicket stand continued." "Well. For a quarter of an hour Mike was comparatively quiet. proceeded to get to business once more. I swear I won't field. "If you declare. These are the things which mark epochs. Nor will Robinson. tried their luck. are simply the sort of things one sees in dreams after a heavy supper. The fieldsmen clapped in quite an indulgent sort of . that directly he had topped his second century. fortified by food and rest. There was almost a sigh of relief when frantic cheering from the crowd told that the feat had been accomplished.30. greatly daring. passing in the road. Barnes." said Barnes unhappily. Besides. and be jolly glad it's so beastly hot. Mr. in one of which a horse. Play was resumed at 2. But it had never happened before in the annals of the school that one side.

. Downing walked moodily to his place.. Stone. and the road at this period of the game became absolutely unsafe for pedestrians and traffic...." Some even began to edge towards the pavilion. And now let's start _our_ innings.. being practically held down by Robinson and other ruffians by force..... Downing.. Jackson. "Barnes!" he called. as who should say. was playing an innings of the How-to-brighten-cricket type... too." "I think Jenkins is just going to bowl.." "This is absurd. not out. sir. Hammond.." snapped Mr... as was only natural.) A grey dismay settled on the field. some species of telepathy telling him what was detaining his captain. You must declare your innings closed... He has probably gone over to the house to fetch something.. as the three hundred and fifty went up on the board. Mike's pace had become slower.way. sir. First innings. _c_. "I think Barnes must have left the field. a week later.. The bowling had now become almost unbelievably bad. He might be awfully annoyed if we did anything like that without consulting him. and still Barnes made no sign. The writing on it was as follows: OUTWOOD'S _v_. capital.... (The conscience-stricken captain of Outwood's was." said Stone. He had an unorthodox style. Barnes. but his score. and Stone. nearly weeping with pure joy.. 124 .." Mr. There was no reply. there was on view..." "It is perfect foolery. not out. and the next after that. Lobs were being tried. The game has become a farce. was mounting steadily._ J. "This is foolery. "Barnes!" "Please.. * * * * * In a neat wooden frame in the senior day-room at Outwood's... But the next ball was bowled... and the next over.. as a matter of fact. 277 W. just above the mantelpiece. a slip of paper." "He's very touchy. _b_. 33 M.. but an excellent eye. P..... in order to correct a more than usually feverish attack of conscience.." "Declare! Sir..... we can't unless Barnes does.. A committee of three was at that moment engaged in sitting on Barnes's head in the first eleven changing-room. Hassall." "Absurd. "Capital. DOWNING'S _Outwood's. J... sir.

Psmith. 471 Downing's did not bat. Comrade Jellicoe and. "The only blot on this day of mirth and good-will singular conduct of our friend Jellicoe. and his eyes were so tired that he could not keep them open. touched me This interested Mike.. I suppose.." .. in a small way.... slipping his little hand in mine. "the the place was crept to my side. I don't suppose he'll ever take another wicket... CHAPTER XLI THE SINGULAR BEHAVIOUR OF JELLICOE Outwood's rollicked considerably that night.. if he had cared to take the part. You have lit a candle this day which can never be blown out.... he will do his best to make it distinctly hot for you. and the probability of his venting his annoyance on Mike next day. it's worth it.. "In theory..Extras." "I don't care.. discoursed in a desultory way on the day's happenings--the score off Mr. and Mike. from what I have seen of our bright little friend. "the manly what-d'you-call-it of cricket and all that sort of thing ought to make him fall on your neck to-morrow and weep over you as a foeman worthy of his steel.. here and there. the undeniable annoyance of that battered bowler. a man can put up with having his bowling hit a little. Mike.. as he lay back in Psmith's deck-chair.. fagged as he was. When all ringing with song and merriment.. is. You will probably get sacked. But your performance was cruelty to animals. could have been the Petted Hero. would have made Job foam at the mouth.. I should say that." said he.. But I am prepared to bet a reasonable sum that he will give no Jiu-jitsu exhibition of this kind. You have shown the lads of the village how Comrade Downing's bowling ought to be treated." "He doesn't deserve to.." Psmith smoothed his hair at the glass and turned round again. Twenty-eight off one over. not to mention three wides. 37 ----Total (for one wicket)... shifting his aching limbs in the chair.. even if one has scored mainly by the medium of boundaries. Downing. One does not make two hundred and seventy-seven runs on a hot day without feeling the effects. for three quid. leaning against the mantelpiece." murmured Mike. On the other hand. "In an ordinary way...... felt that all he wanted was to go to bed and stay there for a week." he said.. His hands and arms burned as if they were red-hot. But a cordial invitation from the senior day-room to be the guest of the evening at about the biggest rag of the century had been refused on the plea of fatigue..... In fact.

I'm stiff all over. contributed nothing After Psmith had gone to sleep. Just as he was wondering whether it would not be a good idea to get up and have a cold bath." "Nor can I. nothing. a voice spoke from the darkness at his side. but he could not sleep. Jackson?" "Who's that?" "Me--Jellicoe. He uttered no word for quite three minutes. It was only yesterday that he borrowed a quid from _me_!" "He must be saving money fast." "I'll come over and sit on your bed. "Are you asleep. At the end of which time he gave a sound midway between a snort and a sigh. ." "Perhaps he's saving up to get married. I can't get to sleep. He wanted four. "Yes?" "Have you--oh. I think an eye ought to be kept on Comrade Jellicoe. and gathered in a fifth during his first summer holidays. and sent him the glad news on a picture post-card. the various points of his innings that day. a time on human affairs in Jellicoe." "But the man must be living at the rate of I don't know what. Psmith chatted for general." Silence again. and then dropped gently off. Jackson!" he said. I hope."What! Three quid!" "Three jingling. "I say. Jellicoe was apparently not in conversational mood." * * * * * a log. There appear to be the makings of a financier about Comrade Jellicoe. Mike lay for some time running over in his mind. he'll pay me back a bit. Mike tumbled into bed that night like He ached all over. It was done on the correspondence system. who appeared to be to the conversation. and then a weight descended in the neighbourhood of Mike's toes. There was a Siamese prince fellow at my dame's at Eton who had four wives when he arrived. when he's collected enough for his needs. Well. We may be helping towards furnishing the home. clinking sovereigns. I'm pretty well cleaned out. wrapped in gloom. He felt very hot and uncomfortable." There was a creaking. His Prime Minister fixed it up at the other end. as the best substitute for sleep." "I got some from my brother at Oxford.

Jackson? I say. "It would be a jolly beastly thing to get sacked. Have you got any sisters. And then I suppose there'd be an awful row and general sickness. And then you'd be sent into a bank. too." "Everybody's would. and you'd go out into the passage. you know. or something. what would your people say if you got sacked?" "All sorts of things. My mater would be sick. Jackson!" "Hullo! What's the matter? Who's that?" . and then you'd have to hang about." "Happen when?" "When you got home. or to Australia. He was not really listening. Jellicoe droned on in a depressed sort of way. They might all be out." "Yes. I meant." Mike was too tired to give his mind to the subject. to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative." "Who's been sacked?" Mike's mind was still under a cloud. and presently you'd hear them come in. So would mine. After being sacked." "Hullo?" "I say. I don't know. and the servant would open the door. Why?" "Oh. in order to give verisimilitude. "What's up?" "Then you'd say. 'Hullo!' And then they'd say." The bed creaked. 'What are you doing here? 'And you'd say----" "What on earth are you talking about?" "About what would happen. I suppose. "My pater would be frightfully sick. "Hullo?" he said. Then he spoke again. as Jellicoe digested these great thoughts. My sister would be jolly sick. I expect. flung so much agitated surprise into the last word that it woke Mike from a troubled doze into which he had fallen. as it were. and you'd drive up to the house. and all that. and you'd go in. "You'd get home in the middle of the afternoon. and wait." Mike dozed off again."Jackson. Especially my pater. "Nobody. But if you were. and they'd say 'Hullo!'" Jellicoe.

He was as obstinate as a mule." said Jellicoe eagerly. But it's jolly serious. already looking about him for further loans. Here was a youth who had borrowed a pound from one friend the day before. As the Blue-Eyed Hero he would have been a rank failure. you don't know any one who could lend me a pound. he was just ordinary. I asked if you'd got any." Mike pondered." "What's up?" "I asked you if you'd got any sisters. He had some virtues and a good many defects. or was he saving up to buy an aeroplane? "What on earth do you want a pound for?" "I don't want to tell anybody." "Whose sisters?" "Yours."Me--Jellicoe. and three pounds from another friend that very afternoon." "Any _what_?" "Sisters. where he was a natural genius. You'll wake Smith. Jackson!" "Well?" "I say." "Did you say you wanted some one to lend you a quid?" "Yes." "What about them?" The conversation was becoming too intricate for Jellicoe. He changed the subject. "Do _what_?" "I say. look out. Except on the cricket field. I shall get sacked if I don't get it." "Any what?" "Sisters. sitting up in bed and staring through the darkness in the direction whence the numismatist's voice was proceeding. Was it a hobby. Those who have followed Mike's career as set forth by the present historian will have realised by this time that he was a good long way from being perfect. though people whom he liked . "Do you know any one?" Mike's head throbbed. The human brain could not be expected to cope with it. This thing was too much. "I say. He resembled ninety per cent. of other members of English public schools. do you?" "What!" cried Mike.

He was always ready to help people. and a painfully vivid recollection of handing over the bulk of his worldly wealth to him. Downing and his house realised this. He had. Mr. Yesterday's performance. asked as a favour that these farm-yard imitations might cease until he was out of the room. He was good-natured as a general thing. and had. . Downing to come. It stood forth without disguise as a deliberate rag. The house's way of signifying its comprehension of the fact was to be cold and distant as far as the seniors were concerned. which in itself is enough to spoil a day. if the situation was so serious with Jellicoe. Mr. stood in a class by itself. Finally. in his childhood. It was a wrench. and the postal order had moved from one side of the dormitory to the other. but on occasion his temper could be of the worst. was reposing in the breast-pocket of his coat. but. That would probably be unpleasant. The great match had not been an ordinary match. been the subject of much adverse comment among his aunts. it had to be done. Young blood had been shed overnight. there was the interview with Mr. he had never felt stiffer in his life. There were other things to make Mike low-spirited that morning. he was never put off by discomfort or risk. It was a particularly fine day. he was in detention. till Psmith. Downing was the sort of master who would be likely to make trouble. who had a sensitive ear. He was rigidly truthful. in addition. To begin with. one good quality without any defect to balance it. which made the matter worse. And when he set himself to do this. though it seemed to please Jellicoe. Bob's postal order. however. and abusive and pugnacious as regards the juniors. for the latter carolled in a gay undertone as he dressed.could do as they pleased with him. One side does not keep another in the field the whole day in a one-day match except as a grisly kind of practical joke. and more flowed during the eleven o'clock interval that morning to avenge the insult. but he did not make a fuss on ordinary occasions when his bowling proved expensive. which had arrived that evening. The thought depressed him. Downing was a curious man in many ways. As Psmith had said. He went at the thing with a singleness of purpose that asked no questions. It seemed to him that the creaking of his joints as he walked must be audible to every one within a radius of several yards. And Mr. where the issue concerned only himself. CHAPTER XLII JELLICOE GOES ON THE SICK-LIST Mike woke next morning with a confused memory of having listened to a great deal of incoherent conversation from Jellicoe. * * * * * Two minutes later the night was being made hideous by Jellicoe's almost tearful protestations of gratitude. In addition to this. he was prepared to act in a manner reminiscent of an American expert witness. Where it was a case of saving a friend.

Downing came down from the heights with a run. As events turned out. sir. Mike. By the time he had reached his peroration. "You are surrounded. the user of it must be met half-way. Downing's methods of retaliation would have to be. had introduced three lively grass-snakes into the room during a Latin lesson. that prince of raggers. When a master has got his knife into a boy. sir. Downing was in a sarcastic mood when he met Mike. are you shuffling your feet?" "Sir. During the interval most of the school walked across the field to look . It does not occur to you to admit your capabilities as a cricketer in an open. and abruptly concluded his remarks by putting Mike on to translate in Cicero. You must act a lie. especially a master who allows himself to be influenced by his likes and dislikes. Parsons?" "I think it's the noise of the draught under the door. like some wretched actor who--I will _not_ have this shuffling. the skipper. he is inclined to single him out in times of stress. at sea." Instant departure of Parsons for the outer regions. straightforward way and place them at the disposal of the school. the speaker lost his inspiration." concluded Mr. but Mike did not doubt that in some way or other his form-master would endeavour to get a bit of his own back." "Well. always assumed an air of stolid stupidity. and began to express himself with a simple strength which it did his form good to listen to. more elusive. of necessity. Mr. Downing laughed bitterly. and savage him as if he were the official representative of the evildoers. His hearer must appear to be conscious of the sarcasm and moved by it. And. no. "No. that would not be dramatic enough for you. No. So Mr. Macpherson.Mr. snapping his pencil in two in his emotion. who had left at Christmas to go to a crammer's. in their experience of the orator. You must--who is that shuffling his feet? I will not have it. Veterans who had been in the form for terms said afterwards that there had been nothing to touch it. Just as. I have spoken of this before. since the glorious day when Dunster. It would be too commonplace altogether. the rapier had given place to the bludgeon. That is to say. you must conceal your capabilities. "by an impenetrable mass of conceit and vanity and selfishness. who happened to have prepared the first half-page. he began in a sarcastic strain. he was perfectly right. which was as a suit of mail against satire." "Please. For sarcasm to be effective. * * * * * The Old Boys' match was timed to begin shortly after eleven o'clock. when he has trouble with the crew. Which Mike. did with much success. works it off on the boy. when masters waxed sarcastic towards him. I _will_ have silence--you must hang back in order to make a more effective entrance. in the excitement of this side-issue. Far too commonplace!" Mr. Downing. But this sort of thing is difficult to keep up. sir.

"I shall have to be going in. zeal outrunning discretion. After which he sat down and began to nurse his ankle." said Dunster. but sat down again with a loud "Ow!" At that moment the bell rang. Jellicoe hopping. Half-way across the field Jellicoe joined him. The bright-blazered youth walked up." "I'll give you a hand. you know. and rather embarrassingly grateful. Jellicoe was cheerful. He uttered a yell and sprang into the air. He was just in the middle of his harangue when the accident happened. As Mike and Jellicoe proceeded on their way. Hurt?" Jellicoe was pressing the injured spot tenderly with his finger-tips. is not a little confusing. "Silly ass." he groaned." said Mike. Dunster advancing with a sort of polka step. puts his hands over his skull. "or I'd have helped you over. as they crossed the field. . But I did yell. on hearing the shout." said Mike. he prodded himself too energetically. One or two of the Old Boys had already changed and were practising in front of the pavilion. Jellicoe was the first to abandon it. When "Heads!" was called on the present occasion. but is not much protection against a skimming drive along the ground. "Awfully sorry. crouches down and trusts to luck. Mike had strolled out by himself. was lashing out recklessly at a friend's bowling. To their left. It was through one of these batsmen that an accident occurred which had a good deal of influence on Mike's affairs. The average person. Can you walk?" Jellicoe tried." "It's swelling up rather. "You'd better get over to the house and have it looked at. man. Dunster. This is an excellent plan if the ball is falling. He helped the sufferer to his feet and they staggered off together. Mike watched them start and then turned to go in. with the faint beginnings of a moustache and a blazer that lit up the surrounding landscape like a glowing beacon. a long youth. "slamming about like that. uttering sharp howls whenever. Already he had gone within an ace of slaying a small the pitch. there was a shout of "Heads!" The almost universal habit of batsmen of shouting "Heads!" at whatever height from the ground the ball may be." "Awfully sorry. Mike and Jellicoe instantly assumed the crouching attitude.

" . These little acts of unremembered kindness are what one needs after a couple of hours in extra pupil-room. of whom you have course of your dabblings in the classics. "more." "What it really wants is top-dressing with guano. Dunster gave dawg. and turning." "Old Smith and I. Well hit. I notice." said Dunster. "It must have been a rag! Couldn't we work off some other rag on somebody before I go? I shall be stopping here till Monday in the village. man." said Psmith." said Psmith. as he walked to the cricket field. felt very much behind the times. poor Jellicoe!" said Psmith. I have just been hearing the melancholy details. "A joyful occasion tinged with melancholy. Comrade Jackson. Arriving on the field he found the Old Boys batting. Mike. sir--Adair's bowling is perfectly simple if you go out to it." said Dunster. "Is your name Jackson?" inquired Dunster." said Dunster. "not Ulysses and the hound Argos. "were at a private school together. Restore your tissues." said the animal delineator." "I heard about yesterday. One feels as if one were entering a new and very delightful world. apply again." "Alas. Before he got there he heard his name called. I was a life-like representation of the faithful "You still jaw as much as ever. The fifth ball bowled a man." stirring sight when we met.CHAPTER XLIII MIKE RECEIVES A COMMISSION There is only one thing to be said in favour of detention on a fine summer's afternoon." sighed Psmith. "You needn't be a funny ass. Hullo! another man out. "heaps of people tell me I ought to have it waxed. Is anything irritating you?" he added. the darling of the crew. fondling the beginnings of his moustache. The sun never seems so bright or the turf so green as during the first five minutes after one has come out of the detention-room. found Psmith seated under a tree with the bright-blazered Dunster. and when you have finished those. eyeing the other's manoeuvres with interest. faithful below he did his duty. "He is now prone on his bed in the dormitory--there a sheer hulk lies poor Tom Jellicoe. pained. Everything seems to have gone on and left one behind. but Comrade Dunster has broached him to. He stopped and watched an over of Adair's. "More. and that is that it is very pleasant to come out of. "Return of the exile. Adair's bowling better to-day than he did yesterday. There is also a touch of the Rip van Winkle feeling. Have a cherry?--take one or two. Mike made his way towards the pavilion. I'd no idea I should find him here. "because Jellicoe wants to see you." "It was a wonderfully unlike the meeting of doubtless read in the Ulysses.

" "I shall count the minutes. Well it was like this--Hullo! We're all out--I shall have to be going out to field again." "What on earth are you talking about? What's the row?" ." "Has he?" said Psmith." said Psmith. the sun was very soothing after his two hours in the detention-room. He went over to the house and made his way to the dormitory. the sun was in my eyes. "I don't suppose it's anything special about Jellicoe. Hamlet had got it. but probably only after years of patient practice. I like to feel that I am doing good. Mike found him in a condition bordering on collapse. "The man has absolutely no sense of humour--can't see when he's being rotted. you might have come before!" said Jellicoe. "What's up? I didn't know there was such a hurry about it--what did you want?" "It's no good now. I hear Adair's got a match on with the M.C." Mike tilted his hat over his eyes and abandoned Jellicoe."Comrade Dunster went out to it first ball. man.C." said Psmith. "I say. I shall get sacked. "was it anything important?" "He seemed to think so--he kept telling me to tell you to go and see him." "What was it Jellicoe wanted?" asked Mike. do you?" he said. it's no catch having to sweat across to the house now." "Don't dream of moving. I need some one to listen when I talk." "I fear Comrade Jellicoe is a bit of a weak-minded blitherer----" "Did you ever hear of a rag we worked off on Jellicoe once?" asked Dunster. not so much physical as mental. The doctor had seen his ankle and reported that it would be on the active list in a couple of days. "I have several rather profound observations on life to make and I can't make them without an audience." said Psmith to Mike. "I mean. where he found the injured one in a parlous state. he felt disinclined for exertion. Archaeology claims so much of my time that I have little leisure for listening to cricket chit-chat. Personally. "I hadn't heard. "it's too late. at last. "Oh! chuck it." said Jellicoe gloomily. It was Jellicoe's mind that needed attention now. Mike stretched himself. It was not until the lock-up bell rang that he remembered him. it'll keep till tea-time. Soliloquy is a knack. I suppose. You stay where you are--don't interrupt too much. dash it! I'll tell you when I see you again.

or he said he'd write to the Head--then of course I should get sacked. only like an ass I thought it would do if I came over at lock-up." said Jellicoe miserably. In the Lower Borlock eleven Mr." "I say." Jellicoe sat up. it's as easy as anything." "What absolute rot!" "But. "it can't be helped. who looked . "Oh. Where do you want me to go?" "It's a place about a mile or two from here. have you? Do you know a man called Barley?" "Barley? Rather--he runs the 'White Boar'. it's frightfully decent of you." "Lower Borlock?" "Yes." "Who would catch me? There was a chap at Wrykyn I knew who used to break out every night nearly and go and pot at cats with an air-pistol. Barley filled the post. has its comic man. it can. only I got crocked."It's about that money." said Mike." The toad-under-the-harrow expression began to fade from Jellicoe's face. do you think you could. look here. really?" "Of course I can! It'll be rather a rag." "Old Barley!" Mike knew the landlord of the "White Boar" well. I was going to take the money to him this afternoon. "I'm awfully sorry." "It doesn't matter. called Lower Borlock. do you know it?" "Rather! I've been playing cricket for them all the term. stout man. "I say. I wanted to get hold of you to ask you to take it for me--it's too late now!" Mike's face fell. for some mysterious reason." "I say." "What about it?" "I had to pay it to a man to-day." "He's the chap I owe the money to. "I know what I'll do--it's all right. "You can't! You'd get sacked if you were caught. he was the wag of the village team. hang it!" he said." "Yes. I'd no idea it was anything like that--what a fool I was! Dunster did say he thought it was something important. so I couldn't move. I'll get out of the house after lights-out. are you certain----" "I shall be all right. He was a large. with a red and cheerful face. Every village team.

as it might have saved him a good deal of inconvenience. He took the envelope containing the money without question. "I shall bike there. but it did not occur to him to ask. He was the last man Mike would have expected to do the "money by Monday-week or I write to the headmaster" business. Probably in business hours After all. I----" "Oh." "I say. "it's locked up at night. and be full of the milk he was quite different." "I say!" "Well?" "Don't tell Smith why you want it. will you? I don't want anybody to know--if a thing once starts getting about it's all over the place in no time. because I used to go out in the early morning sometimes before it was opened. "if I can get into the shed. I won't tell him.exactly like the jovial inn-keeper of melodrama. I think. thanks most awfully! I don't know what I should have done. which was unfortunate. He wondered a little what Jellicoe could have been doing to run up a bill as big as that. five pounds is a large sum of money." The school's bicycles were stored in a shed by the pavilion. CHAPTER XLIV AND FULFILS IT Mike started on his ride to Lower Borlock with mixed feelings. chuck it!" said Mike." he said. but I had a key made to fit it last summer. pleasure is one thing and business his leisure moments. But he reflected that he had only seen him in when he might naturally be expected to unbend of human kindness. there was nothing strange in Mr. Besides." "I'll get it from him. "You can manage that." "Got it on you?" "Smith's got it. Barley's doing everything he could to recover it. It seemed to him that it was none of his business to inquire into Jellicoe's private affairs. another. It is pleasant to be out on a fine night in summer." "All right. but the pleasure is to a certain extent modified when one feels that to be detected will mean . and if Jellicoe owed it." said Jellicoe.

" said Psmith. Where with a private house you would probably have to wander round heaving rocks and end by climbing up a water-spout. sir!" Mike was well known to all dwellers in Lower Borlock. which. with honest amazement and a flood of advice and warning on the subject. but his inquiries as to why it was needed had been embarrassing. but occasionally his foot came down like a steam-hammer. as witness the Wrykyn school report affair. by the cricket field. being wishful to get the job done without delay. appearing in his shirt-sleeves. which for the time being has slipped my memory. After Mike had waited for a few minutes there was a rattling of chains and a shooting of bolts and the door opened. there you are. and all the lights were out--it was some time past eleven. when you want to get into an inn you simply ring the night-bell. Mike would have been glad of a companion. Jackson was easy-going with his family. "Why. Now that he had grown used to the place he was enjoying himself at Sedleigh to a certain extent. from the point of view of the person who wants to get into it when it has been locked up. also. if you're bent on it----" After which he had handed over the key. The place was shut. The "White Boar" stood at the far end of the village. Preparations have been made to meet such an emergency. too. "I forget which. He still harboured a feeling of resentment against the school in general and Adair in particular.expulsion. 'ullo! Mr. for many reasons. He rode past the church--standing out black and mysterious against the light sky--and the rows of silent cottages. he was fairly certain that his father would not let him go to Cambridge if he were expelled from Sedleigh. "One of the Georges. sir?" said the boots. until he came to the inn. So Mike pedalled along rapidly. his scores being the chief topic of conversation when the day's labours were over. It did not take him long to reach Lower Borlock. The advantage an inn has over a private house. communicating with the boots' room. Mike's statement that he wanted to get up early and have a ride had been received by Psmith. Mike wished he could have taken Psmith into his confidence. I've given you the main idea of the thing. Probably he would have volunteered to come. with whom early rising was not a hobby. and he liked playing cricket for Lower Borlock. and a German doctor says that early rising causes insanity. However. of course. once said that a certain number of hours' sleep a day--I cannot recall for the moment how many--made a man something. . has that hard-worked menial up and doing in no time. "Yes. Mike did not want to be expelled. Psmith had yielded up the key. Jackson. but it was pleasant in Outwood's now that he had got to know some of the members of the house. Mr. is that a nocturnal visit is not so unexpected in the case of the former. Still.

when this was finished he handed the letter to Mike." "I must see him. "Dear. but rather for a solemn. It was an occasion for rejoicing." "Oh. "Five pounds!" "You might tell us the joke. eyes-raised-to-heaven kind of rejoicing. Mr. I've got some money to give to him. He staggered about laughing and coughing till Mike began to expect a fit of some kind. thankful. "oh dear! the five pounds!" Mike was not always abreast of the rustic idea of humour. and had another attack."I want to see Mr. "Well. Five minutes later mine host appeared in person. Then he collapsed into a chair. who was waiting patiently by. then he broke into a roar of laughter which shook the sporting prints on the wall and drew barks from dogs in some distant part of the house. which creaked under him. Barley. Barley opened the letter." Mr. Mr. Jack. For the life of him he could not see what there was to amuse any one so much in the fact that a person who owed five pounds was ready to pay it back. "You can pop off. ." "The money? What money?" "What he owes you. The landlord of the "White Boar" was one of those men who need a beauty sleep. hoping for light. Jackson. perhaps. "What's up?" he asked. what's it all about?" "Jellicoe asked me to come and bring you the money. "Oh dear!" he said. Jack. Jackson. looking more than usually portly in a check dressing-gown and red bedroom slippers of the _Dreadnought_ type. Barley stared open-mouthed at Mike for a moment. and wiped his eyes. if it's _that_--" said the boots." "The five--" Mr. Can you get him down?" The boots looked doubtful. the five pounds. Mike quite admitted the gravity of the task. and requested him to read it. read it. and now he felt particularly fogged. of course. "five pounds! They may teach you young gentlemen to talk Latin and Greek and what not at your school." Exit boots to his slumbers once more. "Roust the guv'nor outer bed?" he said." "He's bin in bed this half-hour back. dear!" chuckled Mr. "I wish you would--it's a thing that can't wait. Barley.

every word--and here's the five pounds in cash in this envelope here! I haven't had such a laugh since we got old Tom Raxley out of bed at twelve of a winter's night by telling him his house was a-fire. Barley's sense of humour. simply in order to satisfy Mr. it was signed "T.but it 'ud do a lot more good if they'd teach you how many beans make five. a position imperilling one's chance of going to the 'Varsity. Jellicoe over this. "DEAR MR. Jellicoe. but to be placed in a dangerous position. always up to it. and as sharp as mustard. Mike was . Jane--she's the worst of the two." "What on earth's it all about?" said Mike. So Mike laughed perfunctorily. in fact. and rode off on his return journey. Love us!" Mr. BARLEY." It is not always easy to appreciate a joke of the practical order if one has been made even merely part victim of it. and will he kindly remit same by Saturday night at the latest or I write to his headmaster. Aberdeen terriers. since. But it is impossible to abuse the Barley type of man. it 'ud do a lot more good if they'd teach you to come in when it rained. Mischief! I believe you. The other day. I hope it is in time. she is--she got hold of my old hat and had it in bits before you could say knife. G. I am sorry Jane and John ate your wife's hat and the chicken and broke the vase. finishing this curious document. love us! they don't do no harm! Bite up an old shoe sometimes and such sort of things. they are. John upset a china vase in one of the bedrooms chasing a mouse. took back the envelope with the five pounds. Jellicoe keeps two dogs here. Mike. it 'ud do----" Mike was reading the letter. I keep 'em for him till the young gentlemen go home for their holidays. about 'ar parse five. the affair of old Tom Raxley. Barley's enjoyment of the whole thing was so honest and child-like. because I don't want you to write to the headmaster. and the damage'll be five pounds. last Wednesday it were. was more inclined to be abusive than mirthful." There was some more to the same effect. "he took it all in. which I could not get before. or if one chooses to run them for one's own amusement. Probably it had given him the happiest quarter of an hour he had known for years. as he reflected that he had been dragged out of his house in the middle of the night.--"I send the £5. It would have been cruel to damp the man. and they got on the coffee-room table and ate half a cold chicken what had been left there. but. Mr.' and I sits down and writes off saying the little dogs have eaten a valuable hat and a chicken and what not. Mr. in contravention of all school rules and discipline. Running risks is all very well when they are necessary. accepted a stone ginger beer and a plateful of biscuits. Barley slapped his leg. 'I'll have a game with Mr. Barley slapped his thigh." it ran. "Why. is another matter altogether. So I says to myself. * * * * * Mention has been made above of the difference which exists between getting into an inn after lock-up and into a private house.

nearest to Mr. Sergeant Collard . it may be remembered he had wrenched away the wooden bar which bisected the window-frame. One can never tell precisely how one will act in a sudden emergency. Outwood's front garden. As he did so. that the voice had come. and locked the door. went out. The right thing for Mike to have done at this crisis was to have ignored the voice. Mike felt easier in his mind. He had got about half-way up when a voice from somewhere below cried. and gone to bed. The suddenness. he saw a stout figure galloping towards him from that direction. He bolted like a rabbit for the other gate. carried on up the water-pipe. and running. He proceeded to scale this water-pipe. On the first day of term. "Oo-oo-oo yer!" was the exact find this out for himself. his pursuer again gave tongue. and as he wheeled his machine in. of which the house was the centre. He made the strategic error of sliding rapidly down the pipe. of the call caused Mike to lose his head. With this knowledge. There were thirty-four boys in Outwood's. Outwood's house had been seen breaking in after lights-out. and through the study window. however. It was extremely unlikely that anybody could have recognised him at night against the dark background of the house. "Who's that?" CHAPTER XLV PURSUIT These things are Life's Little Difficulties. thus rendering exit and entrance almost as simple as they had been for Wyatt during Mike's first term at Wrykyn. but it would have been very difficult for the authorities to have narrowed the search down any further than that. of whom about fourteen were much the same size and build as Mike. The position then would have been that somebody in Mr. as Mike came to the ground. This he accomplished with success. Without waiting to discover what this might be. Fortune had favoured his undertaking by decreeing that a stout drain-pipe should pass up the wall within a few inches of his and Psmith's study. Whereby Mike recognised him as the school sergeant. and. "Oo-oo-oo yer!" was that militant gentleman's habitual way of beginning a conversation. his foot touched something on the floor. His first act on arriving at Sedleigh was to replace his bicycle in the shed. The carriage drive ran in a semicircle. It was from the right-hand gate. There were two gates to Mr. after which he ran across to Outwood's. he leaned his bicycle against the wall. Downing's house. It was pitch-dark in the shed.

Mike's attentive ear noted that the bright speech was a shade more puffily delivered this time. but he could not run. When he moved now it was at a stately walk. for Mike heard it grate in the lock. He would wait till a quarter past. "Is that you. disappeared as the runner. The last person he would have expected to meet at midnight obviously on the point of going for a bicycle ride. till he reached the entrance to the school grounds. Then he would trot softly back. Mike heard him toil on for a few yards and then stop. passing through the gate. Mike waited for several minutes behind his tree. at Wrykyn. He left his cover. Presently the sergeant turned the corner. he supposed--on the school clock. His thoughts were miles away. he sat on the steps. . with the sergeant panting in his wake. increasing his girth. as Mike. He began to feel that this was not such bad fun after all. They passed the gate and went on down the road. At this point he left the pavilion and hailed his fellow rambler by night in a cautious undertone. turned into the road that led to the school. He dashed in and took cover behind a tree. had taken from him the taste for such exercise. He would have liked to be in bed. this time at a walk. taking things easily. (notably a talent for what he was wont to call "spott'n. A sound of panting was borne to him. The fact that he ran to-night showed how the excitement of the chase had entered into his blood. The pursuer had given the thing up. He ran on. shoot up the water-pipe once more. that he had been seen and followed. he saw a dim figure moving rapidly across the cricket field straight for him. this was certainly the next best thing. going badly and evidently cured of a good deal of the fever of the chase.was a man of many fine qualities. if that was out of the question." a mysterious gift which he exercised on the rifle range). but Time. and stopped at the door of the bicycle shed. Jackson?" Mike recognised Adair's voice. Then the sound of footsteps returning. when he was recalled to Sedleigh by the sound of somebody running. instead of making for the pavilion. There had been a time in his hot youth when he had sprinted like an untamed mustang in pursuit of volatile Pathans in Indian hill wars. His programme now was simple. "Who the dickens is that?" he asked. Like Mike. there was nothing to be gained from lurking behind a tree. Meanwhile. and started to stroll in the direction of the pavilion. Focussing his gaze. but. turned aside. in case the latter took it into his head to "guard home" by waiting at the gate. looking out on to the cricket field. he was evidently possessed of a key. It had just struck a quarter to something--twelve. Having arrived there. His first impression. "Oo-oo-oo yer!" he shouted again. The other appeared startled. and so to bed. He would give Sergeant Collard about half an hour.

was groaning and exhibiting other symptoms of acute illness. that MacPhee. and a pound of cherries. therefore. as a matter of fact. at a range of about two yards. The school clock struck the quarter. the direct and legitimate result of eating six buns. But Mr."What are you doing out here. even if he had started to wait for him at the house. He would be safe now in trying for home again." "I suppose you think you're doing something tremendously brave and dashing?" "Hadn't you better be going to the doctor?" "If you want to know what I think----" "I don't. an apple. with a cry of "Is that you. Downing. Downing saw in his attack the beginnings of some deadly scourge which would sweep through and decimate the house. So long. He was off like an ." "Oh!" "What are you doing out here?" "Just been for a stroll. whistling between his teeth. half a cocoa-nut. "I'm going for the doctor. It came about. and washing the lot down with tea. was now standing at his front gate. and Mr. Mike saw his light pass across the field and through the gate. Downing emerged from his gate. was disturbed in his mind. Now it happened that Mr." Mike turned away. that Mike. and. conveyed to him by Adair. one of the junior members of Adair's dormitory. Jackson?" "What are you. Downing was apt to get jumpy beyond the ordinary on such occasions. Mike stood not upon the order of his going. two ices. aroused from his first sleep by the news. Adair rode off. three doughnuts. would not keep up the vigil for more than half an hour. Most housemasters feel uneasy in the event of illness in their houses. One of the chaps in our house is bad. He had despatched Adair for the doctor. It seemed to Mike that Sergeant Collard. after spending a few minutes prowling restlessly about his room. if it comes to that?" Adair was lighting his lamp. After a moment's pause. waiting for Adair's return. He walked in that direction." "Hadn't you better be getting back?" "Plenty of time. was a very fair stomach-ache. All that was wrong with MacPhee. Adair?" The next moment Mr. had his already shaken nerves further maltreated by being hailed. sprinting lightly in the direction of home and safety.

arrow--a flying figure of Guilt. Mr. Downing, after the first surprise, seemed to grasp the situation. Ejaculating at intervals the words, "Who is that? Stop! Who is that? Stop!" he dashed after the much-enduring Wrykynian at an extremely creditable rate of speed. Mr. Downing was by way of being a sprinter. He had won handicap events at College sports at Oxford, and, if Mike had not got such a good start, the race might have been over in the first fifty yards. As it was, that victim of Fate, going well, kept ahead. At the entrance to the school grounds he led by a dozen yards. The procession passed into the field, Mike heading as before for the pavilion. As they raced across the soft turf, an idea occurred to Mike which he was accustomed in after years to attribute to genius, the one flash of it which had ever illumined his life. It was this. One of Mr. Downing's first acts, on starting the Fire Brigade at Sedleigh, had been to institute an alarm bell. It had been rubbed into the school officially--in speeches from the daÃ‾s--by the headmaster, and unofficially--in earnest private conversations--by Mr. Downing, that at the sound of this bell, at whatever hour of day or night, every member of the school must leave his house in the quickest possible way, and make for the open. The bell might mean that the school was on fire, or it might mean that one of the houses was on fire. In any case, the school had its orders--to get out into the open at once. Nor must it be supposed that the school was without practice at this feat. Every now and then a notice would be found posted up on the board to the effect that there would be fire drill during the dinner hour that day. Sometimes the performance was bright and interesting, as on the occasion when Mr. Downing, marshalling the brigade at his front gate, had said, "My house is supposed to be on fire. Now let's do a record!" which the Brigade, headed by Stone and Robinson, obligingly did. They fastened the hose to the hydrant, smashed a window on the ground floor (Mr. Downing having retired for a moment to talk with the headmaster), and poured a stream of water into the room. When Mr. Downing was at liberty to turn his attention to the matter, he found that the room selected was his private study, most of the light furniture of which was floating on a miniature lake. That episode had rather discouraged his passion for realism, and fire drill since then had taken the form, for the most part, of "practising escaping." This was done by means of canvas shoots, kept in the dormitories. At the sound of the bell the prefect of the dormitory would heave one end of the shoot out of window, the other end being fastened to the sill. He would then go down it himself, using his elbows as a brake. Then the second man would follow his example, and these two, standing below, would hold the end of the shoot so that the rest of the dormitory could fly rapidly down it without injury, except to their digestions. After the first novelty of the thing had worn off, the school had taken a rooted dislike to fire drill. It was a matter for self-congratulation among them that Mr. Downing had never been able to induce the headmaster to allow the alarm bell to be sounded for fire drill at night. The headmaster, a man who had his views on the amount of sleep necessary for the growing boy, had drawn the line at night operations. "Sufficient unto the day" had been the gist of

his reply. If the alarm bell were to ring at night when there was no fire, the school might mistake a genuine alarm of fire for a bogus one, and refuse to hurry themselves. So Mr. Downing had had to be content with day drill. The alarm bell hung in the archway leading into the school grounds. The end of the rope, when not in use, was fastened to a hook half-way up the wall. Mike, as he raced over the cricket field, made up his mind in a flash that his only chance of getting out of this tangle was to shake his pursuer off for a space of time long enough to enable him to get to the rope and tug it. Then the school would come out. He would mix with them, and in the subsequent confusion get back to bed unnoticed. The task was easier than it would have seemed at the beginning of the chase. Mr. Downing, owing to the two facts that he was not in the strictest training, and that it is only an Alfred Shrubb who can run for any length of time at top speed shouting "Who is that? Stop! Who is that? Stop!" was beginning to feel distressed. There were bellows to mend in the Downing camp. Mike perceived this, and forced the pace. He rounded the pavilion ten yards to the good. Then, heading for the gate, he put all he knew into one last sprint. Mr. Downing was not equal to the effort. He worked gamely for a few strides, then fell behind. When Mike reached the gate, a good forty yards separated them. As far as Mike could judge--he was not in a condition to make nice calculations--he had about four seconds in which to get busy with that bell rope. Probably nobody has ever crammed more energetic work into four seconds than he did then. The night was as still as only an English summer night can be, and the first clang of the clapper sounded like a million iron girders falling from a height on to a sheet of tin. He tugged away furiously, with an eye on the now rapidly advancing and loudly shouting figure of the housemaster. And from the darkened house beyond there came a gradually swelling hum, as if a vast hive of bees had been disturbed. The school was awake.

CHAPTER XLVI THE DECORATION OF SAMMY Smith leaned against the mantelpiece in the senior day-room at Outwood's--since Mike's innings against Downing's the Lost Lambs had been received as brothers by that centre of disorder, so that even Spiller was compelled to look on the hatchet as buried--and gave his views on the events of the preceding night, or, rather, of that morning, for it was nearer one than twelve when peace had once more fallen on the school.

"Nothing that happens in this luny-bin," said Psmith, "has power to surprise me now. There was a time when I might have thought it a little unusual to have to leave the house through a canvas shoot at one o'clock in the morning, but I suppose it's quite the regular thing here. Old school tradition, &c. Men leave the school, and find that they've got so accustomed to jumping out of window that they look on it as a sort of affectation to go out by the door. I suppose none of you merchants can give me any idea when the next knockabout entertainment of this kind is likely to take place?" "I wonder who rang that bell!" said Stone. "Jolly sporting idea." "I believe it was Downing himself. If it was, I hope he's satisfied." Jellicoe, who was appearing in society supported by a stick, looked meaningly at Mike, and giggled, receiving in answer a stony stare. Mike had informed Jellicoe of the details of his interview with Mr. Barley at the "White Boar," and Jellicoe, after a momentary splutter of wrath against the practical joker, was now in a particularly light-hearted mood. He hobbled about, giggling at nothing and at peace with all the world. "It was a stirring scene," said Psmith. "The agility with which Comrade Jellicoe boosted himself down the shoot was a triumph of mind over matter. He seemed to forget his ankle. It was the nearest thing to a Boneless Acrobatic Wonder that I have ever seen." "I was in a beastly funk, I can tell you." Stone gurgled. "So was I," he said, "for a bit. Then, when I saw that it was all a rag, I began to look about for ways of doing the thing really well. I emptied about six jugs of water on a gang of kids under my window." "I rushed into Downing's, and ragged some of the beds," said Robinson. "It was an invigorating time," said Psmith. "A sort of pageant. I was particularly struck with the way some of the bright lads caught hold of the idea. There was no skimping. Some of the kids, to my certain knowledge, went down the shoot a dozen times. There's nothing like doing a thing thoroughly. I saw them come down, rush upstairs, and be saved again, time after time. The thing became chronic with them. I should say Comrade Downing ought to be satisfied with the high state of efficiency to which he has brought us. At any rate I hope----" There was a sound of hurried footsteps outside the door, and Sharpe, a member of the senior day-room, burst excitedly in. He seemed amused. "I say, have you chaps seen Sammy?" "Seen who?" said Stone. "Sammy? Why?" "You'll know in a second. He's just outside. Here, Sammy, Sammy, Sammy! Sam! Sam!" A bark and a patter of feet outside. "Come on, Sammy. Good dog."

There was a moment's silence. Then a great yell of laughter burst forth. Even Psmith's massive calm was shattered. As for Jellicoe, he sobbed in a corner. Sammy's beautiful white coat was almost entirely concealed by a thick covering of bright red paint. His head, with the exception of the ears, was untouched, and his serious, friendly eyes seemed to emphasise the weirdness of his appearance. He stood in the doorway, barking and wagging his tail, plainly puzzled at his reception. He was a popular dog, and was always well received when he visited any of the houses, but he had never before met with enthusiasm like this. "Good old Sammy!" "What on earth's been happening to him?" "Who did it?" Sharpe, the introducer, had no views on the matter. "I found him outside Downing's, with a crowd round him. Everybody seems to have seen him. I wonder who on earth has gone and mucked him up like that!" Mike was the first to show any sympathy for the maltreated animal. "Poor old Sammy," he said, kneeling on the floor beside the victim, and scratching him under the ear. "What a beastly shame! It'll take hours to wash all that off him, and he'll hate it." "It seems to me," said Psmith, regarding Sammy dispassionately through his eyeglass, "that it's not a case for mere washing. They'll either have to skin him bodily, or leave the thing to time. Time, the Great Healer. In a year or two he'll fade to a delicate pink. I don't see why you shouldn't have a pink bull-terrier. It would lend a touch of distinction to the place. Crowds would come in excursion trains to see him. By charging a small fee you might make him self-supporting. I think I'll suggest it to Comrade Downing." "There'll be a row about this," said Stone. "Rows are rather sport when you're not mixed up in them," said Robinson, philosophically. "There'll be another if we don't start off for chapel soon. It's a quarter to." There was a general move. Mike was the last to leave the room. As he was going, Jellicoe stopped him. Jellicoe was staying in that Sunday, owing to his ankle. "I say," said Jellicoe, "I just wanted to thank you again about that----" "Oh, that's all right." "No, but it really was awfully decent of you. You might have got into a frightful row. Were you nearly caught?" "Jolly nearly."

"It _was_ you who rang the bell, wasn't it?" "Yes, it was. But for goodness sake don't go gassing about it, or somebody will get to hear who oughtn't to, and I shall be sacked." "All right. But, I say, you _are_ a chap!" "What's the matter now?" "I mean about Sammy, you know. It's a jolly good score off old Downing. He'll be frightfully sick." "Sammy!" cried Mike. "My good man, you don't think I did that, do you? What absolute rot! I never touched the poor brute." "Oh, all right," said Jellicoe. "But I wasn't going to tell any one, of course." "What do you mean?" "You _are_ a chap!" giggled Jellicoe. Mike walked to chapel rather thoughtfully.

CHAPTER XLVII MR. DOWNING ON THE SCENT There was just one moment, the moment in which, on going down to the junior day-room of his house to quell an unseemly disturbance, he was boisterously greeted by a vermilion bull terrier, when Mr. Downing was seized with a hideous fear lest he had lost his senses. Glaring down at the crimson animal that was pawing at his knees, he clutched at his reason for one second as a drowning man clutches at a lifebelt. Then the happy laughter of the young onlookers reassured him. "Who--" he shouted, "WHO has done this?" [Illustration: "WHO--" HE SHOUTED, "WHO HAS DONE THIS?"] "Please, sir, we don't know," shrilled the chorus. "Please, sir, he came in like that." "Please, sir, we were sitting here when he suddenly ran in, all red." A voice from the crowd: "Look at old Sammy!" The situation was impossible. There was nothing to be done. He could not find out by verbal inquiry who had painted the dog. The possibility of Sammy being painted red during the night had never occurred to Mr. Downing, and now that the thing had happened he had no scheme of action. As Psmith would have said, he had confused the unusual with the impossible, and the result was that he was taken by surprise.

"One of the boys at the school. A big boy. "Was he wearing a school cap?" "He was bare-headed. only. and his dog had been held up to ridicule to all the world. He had a cold in the head. It was not his . Mr. Sammy's state advanced from a private trouble into a row. was not in the best of tempers. The headmaster." "You did not see his face?" "It was dark and he never looked back--he was in front of me all the time. "He--he--_what_. Downing." "Dear me!" "There is another matter----" "Yes?" "This boy. He received the housemaster frostily. Downing's next move was in the same direction that Sammy had taken. Downing was too angry to see anything humorous in the incident. escaped and rushed into the road." The headmaster's eyes protruded from their sockets. who had had to leave his house in the small hours in his pyjamas and a dressing-gown. Mr. taking advantage of the door being open. who. I suppose not. and also a rooted conviction that Mr. but thawed as the latter related the events which had led up to the ringing of the bell. thus publishing his condition to all and sundry. he went straight to the headmaster. he wanted revenge. Downing. Downing?" "He painted my dog red--bright red." said Mr. You can hush up a painted dog while it confines itself to your own premises. "Dear me!" he said. had done something before he rang the bell--he had painted my dog Sampson red. did want to smile. you think?" "I am certain of it. on the other hand. in spite of his strict orders." "No. Since the previous night he had been wounded in his tenderest feelings. His Fire Brigade system had been most shamefully abused by being turned into a mere instrument in the hands of a malefactor for escaping justice. no. The Head. you say?" "Very big. He did not want to smile." Mr. whoever he was. deeply interested. instead of running about the road. A boy who breaks out of his house at night would hardly run the risk of wearing a distinguishing cap. but once it has mixed with the great public this becomes out of the question. had rung the bell himself on the previous night in order to test the efficiency of the school in saving themselves in the event of fire.While he was pondering on this the situation was rendered still more difficult by Sammy.

" "But what was he doing out at that hour?" "He had broken out. Downing. but without result. for the sergeant would scarcely have kept a thing like that to himself. and to him there was something ludicrous in a white dog suddenly appearing as a red dog. he found himself in a moment in the position of being set to find it in a mere truss of straw. Downing. he could look on the affair with an unbiased eye. The school filed out of the Hall to their various lunches. "Not actually in. broke into a wild screech of laughter. He was in a state of suppressed excitement and exultation which made it hard for him to attend to his colleague's slow utterances. as far as I understand. Instead of having to hunt for a needle in a haystack. "I shall punish the boy who did it most severely. Downing was not listening. He had a clue! Now that the search had narrowed itself down to Outwood's house. "Then the boy was in your house!" exclaimed Mr. Mr. at the time. and all the boys were asleep--all of them. unidentified. "Quite so! Quite so!" said the headmaster hastily. and was instantly awarded two hundred lines. had seen. feeling perhaps that it had been a little hard upon Mr. Or reflection he dismissed this as unlikely. The great thing in affairs of this kind is to get a good start. Later he remembered the fact _À propos_ of some reflections on the subject of burglars in mediaeval England. I gather from the sergeant that he interrupted him before----" "I mean he must have been one of the boys in your house.. not to mention cromlechs. whose thoughts were occupied with apses and plinths. A cordial invitation to the criminal to come forward and be executed was received in wooden silence by the school. thanked the sergeant with absent-minded politeness and passed on. Perhaps Sergeant Collard had actually recognised the boy. but he might very well have seen more of him than he. with the exception of Johnson III." "Impossible. Downing. and Mr. Downing was left with the conviction that. and informed him that at close on twelve the night before he had observed a youth. who. It was Mr. attempting to get into his house _via_ the water-pipe. Outwood who helped him." Mr. Downing as they walked back to lunch. Outwood. gave him a most magnificent start. "It is a scandalous thing!" said Mr. Downing. It was only ." Which he did. and Fate. quite impossible! I went round the dormitories as usual at eleven o'clock last night. Sergeant Collard had waylaid the archaeological expert on his way to chapel. and passed it on to Mr. I think. Oh yes. he would have to discover him for himself. the rest was comparatively easy. of Outwood's. I will speak to the school in the Hall after suddenly reminded of Sammy's appearance by the headmaster's words. if he wanted the criminal discovered.

''Ere comes Sergeant Collard. 'e was doublin' away in the opposite direction. after sitting still and eyeing with acute dislike everybody who asked for a second helping. Downing. he used to say. * * * * * Sergeant Collard lived with his wife and a family of unknown dimensions in the lodge at the school front gate.with an effort that he could keep himself from rushing to the sergeant then and there. Outwood. Having requested his host to smoke. Dook of Connaught. He resolved to go the moment that meal was at an end. In due course Mr. what yer doin' there?'" "Yes?" "But 'e was off in a flash. and I doubles after 'im prompt. and leaving the house lunch to look after itself. "Oo-oo-oo." "But you didn't catch him?" "No. but it finishes in time. you saw a boy endeavouring to enter his house. Downing stated his case. I am. Mr. The sergeant received his visitor with dignity. who were torpid after roast beef and resented having to move." "Did you notice anything at all about his appearance?" "'E was a long young chap. sergeant. sir. found himself at liberty. Feeflee good at spottin'. sergeant?" "No. sir." he said. sir. Sunday lunch at a public-school house is probably one of the longest functions in existence. "Did you catch sight of his face. "tells me that last night. yer young monkey. feeflee!" "You noticed nothing else?" "'E wasn't wearing no cap of any sort." admitted the sergeant reluctantly. I did. "I did. Dinner was just over when Mr." The sergeant blew a cloud of smoke. Downing arrived." he said. sir." "Ah!" .' he used to say. which the latter was about to do unasked. Oo-oo-oo. ejecting the family. as a blind man could have told. ''e's feeflee good at spottin'. he rushed forth on the trail.'" "What did you do?" "Do? Oo-oo-oo! I shouts 'Oo-oo-oo yer. with a pair of legs on him--feeflee fast 'e run. sir. yer. It drags its slow length along like a languid snake. sir. Regardless of the claims of digestion. "Mr. sir--spotted 'im. in order to ensure privacy.

"Well. while Sergeant Collard. Collard to take the children out for a walk at once. sergeant. . but it was a dark night. to a very large extent. The school plays the M." "Good-afternoon to you. Downing went out into the baking sunlight. "I will find my way out. But Doctor Watson has got to have it taken out for him. Good afternoon. is it not?" "Feeflee warm. sir. Very hot to-day." "Young monkeys!" interjected the sergeant helpfully. sergeant. success in the province of detective work must always be. rested his feet on the table. having requested Mrs. "the search is now considerably narrowed down."Bare-'eaded.C. if he persisted in making so much noise." added the sergeant." Mr.C. the result of luck." And Mr. sir. sir. CHAPTER XLVIII THE SLEUTH-HOUND For the Doctor Watsons of this world. Downing rose to go." "I hope not." "Pray do not move. and slept the sleep of the just. you think?" "Oo-oo-oo! Wouldn't go so far as to say that. with a label attached. I'm feeflee good at spottin'. Sherlock Holmes can extract a clue from a wisp of straw or a flake of cigar-ash. and dusted. weather's goin' to break--workin' up for thunder. put a handkerchief over his face. and exhibited clearly." The sergeant had not shown the slightest inclination of doing anything of the kind. and it would be a pity if rain were to spoil our first fixture with them." "You would not be able to recognise him again if you saw him. sir. "It was undoubtedly the same boy. "Good-afternoon." "So do I. sergeant. rubbing the point in. sir. considerably! It is certain that the boy was one of the boys in Mr. 'cos yer see. undoubtedly! I wish you could have caught a glimpse of his face. Outwood's house." he said. as opposed to the Sherlock Holmeses. and furthermore to give young Ernie a clip side of the 'ead. on Wednesday.

but how was he to get any farther? That was the thing. If you go to a boy and say. We are wont to scoff in a patronising manner at that humble follower of the great investigator. unless you knew who had really done the crime. he thought. Downing had read all the Holmes stories with great attention. this time in the shape of Riglett. tight-lipped smiles. saying: "My dear Holmes. As he brooded over the case in hand. He had got as far as finding that his quarry of the previous night was a boy in Mr. We should not even have risen to the modest level of a Scotland Yard Bungler. Mr. how--?" and all the rest of it. the air of one who has been caught particularly shady. but. but even if there had been only one other. It is practically Stalemate. and leaves the next move to you. Probably." the boy does not reply. he thinks naturally of Sherlock Holmes. He gets along very comfortably in the humdrum round of life without having to measure footprints and smile quiet. it would have complicated matters. and had thought many times what an incompetent ass Doctor Watson was. even and. What he wanted was a clue. to detect anybody. Watson increased with every minute. he was compelled to admit that there was a good deal to be said in extenuation of Watson's inability to unravel tangles. requested that way peculiar to some boys. Outwood's house. Outwood's house as tall as the one he had pursued.The average man is a Doctor Watson. when Fate once more intervened. I cannot tell a lie--I was out of my house last night at twelve o'clock. there were clues lying all over the place. Downing's mind as he walked up and down the cricket field that afternoon. Downing with in the act of doing something he might be allowed to fetch his . now that he had started to handle his own first case. his sympathy for Dr. It certainly was uncommonly hard. but he knew perfectly well who had done the thing before he started! Now that he began really to look into this matter of the alarm bell and the painting of Sammy. we should have been just as dull ourselves. a junior member of his house. It is not often that the ordinary person has any need to see what he can do in the way of detection. the conviction was creeping over him that the problem was more difficult than a casual observer might imagine. just as the downtrodden medico did. But it is so hard for the novice to tell what is a clue and what isn't. having capped Mr. if he only knew. and he began to feel a certain resentment against Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. only a limited number of boys in Mr. There were. All these things passed through Mr. But if ever the emergency does arise. "Sir. and his methods. What with the oppressive heat of the day and the fatigue of hard thinking. shouting to him to pick them up. but. Mr. Riglett slunk up in the shamefaced when they have done nothing wrong. as a matter of fact. We should simply have hung around. Downing was working up for a brain-storm." He simply assumes the animated expression of a stuffed fish. of course. as he paced the cricket field after leaving Sergeant Collard. "Either you or Jones were out of your house last night at twelve o'clock. It was all very well for Sir Arthur to be so shrewd and infallible about tracing a mystery to its source.

blushed. Downing. Downing. however. his brain fizzing with the enthusiasm of the detective. stood first on his left foot. extracted his bicycle from the rack. Downing to mundane matters. Give Dr. Red paint. Somebody has upset a pot of paint on the floor. And this was a particularly messy mess. Riglett. In the first place. Downing remembered. A foot-mark! No less. Mr. he saw the clue. Your careful detective must consider everything. He felt for his bunch of keys. What he saw at first was not a Clue. walking delicately through dry places. The sound recalled Mr." he said. but just a mess. Then Mr. then on his right.bicycle from the shed. and made his way to the shed. Watson could not have overlooked. Paint. It was the ground-man's paint. Yoicks! There were two things. Mr. Much thinking had made him irritable. Whose foot-mark? Plainly that of the criminal who had done the deed of decoration. "Pah!" said Mr. Downing's brain was now working with a rapidity and clearness which a professional sleuth might have envied. "Get your bicycle. Watson a fair start. He had a tidy soul and abhorred messes. Downing unlocked the door. but did not immediately recognise it for what it was. The greater part of the flooring in the neighbourhood of the door was a sea of red paint. Obviously the same paint with which Sammy had been decorated. The air was full of the pungent scent. as if it were not so much a sound reason as a sort of feeble excuse for the low and blackguardly fact that he wanted his bicycle. "Your bicycle?" snapped Mr. and he is a demon at the game. "What do you want with your bicycle?" Riglett shuffled. A foot-mark. "and be careful where you tread. Downing saw it. leaving Mr. who had been waiting patiently two yards away. whom he was accustomed to visit occasionally on Sunday afternoons during the term. A crimson foot-mark on the grey concrete! Riglett. to be considered. beneath the disguise of the mess. Riglett shambling behind at an interval of two yards. that he had got leave for tea that afternoon. now coughed plaintively." Riglett. Mr. and presently departed to gladden the heart of his aunt. to lock the door and resume his perambulation of the cricket field. He had been giving a fresh coating to the wood-work in front of . Downing. and finally remarked. The tin from which it had flowed was lying on its side in the middle of the shed. the paint might have been upset by the ground-man. Then suddenly. and there on the floor was the Clue! A clue that even Dr. Riglett had an aunt resident about three miles from the school.

I merely wished to ask you if you found any paint on your boots when you returned to the house last night?" "Paint. sir?" Adair was plainly puzzled. where does Markby live?" "I forget the name of his cottage. he came upon the Head of his house in a deck-chair reading a book. I didn't go into the shed at all. I wondered whether you had happened to tread in it. on returning to the house. A summer Sunday afternoon is the time for reading in deck-chairs. _Note two_ Interview Adair as to whether he found. It's one of those cottages just past the school gates. that there was paint on his boots. Quite so. You did not do that." "It is spilt all over the floor. His book had been interesting. "I see somebody has spilt some paint on the floor of the bicycle shed. He could get the ground-man's address from him. I should like to speak to Markby for a moment on a small matter. But you say you found no paint on your boots this morning?" "No. Adair.the pavilion scoring-box at the conclusion of yesterday's match. when you went to fetch your bicycle?" "No. by the way. I suppose. His is the first you come to. Adair. and the ground-man came out in . Things were moving. He rapped at the door of the first. but I could show you in a second. sir. my bicycle is always quite near the door of the shed." "I see. sir. on the right as you turn out into the road." "Thank you. Oh. There are three in a row. There's a barn just before you get to them. * * * * * He resolved to take Adair first. This was the more probable of the two contingencies. for it would have been dark in the shed when Adair went into it. Adair. and had driven the Sammy incident out of his head." he said." A sharp walk took him to the cottages Adair had mentioned. sir. _Note one_: Interview the ground-man on this point.) In that case the foot-mark might be his. I shall be able to find them. Passing by the trees under whose shade Mike and Psmith and Dunster had watched the match on the previous day. In the second place Adair might have upset the tin and trodden in its contents when he went to get his bicycle in order to fetch the doctor for the suffering MacPhee. "No. Thank you. (A labour of love which was the direct outcome of the enthusiasm for work which Adair had instilled into him. don't get up. "Oh.

sir. too. somebody who had no business to do so has moved the pot of paint from the shelf to the floor. yes. with the can of whitening what I use for marking out the wickets. Outwood did not really exist as a man capable of resenting liberties--find the paint-splashed boot. Blue Fire and "God Save the King" by the full strength of the company. and spilt. thank you. A boy cannot tread in a pool of paint without showing some signs of having done so. He was hot on the scent now. CHAPTER XLIX A CHECK . On the shelf at the far end. somehow one grew unconsciously to feel that Mr. Yoicks! Also Tally-ho! This really was beginning to be something like business. so that the boot would not yet have been cleaned. with the result that it has been kicked over. as was indeed the case. thank you. Quite so. Markby. Markby!" "Sir?" "You remember that you were painting the scoring-box in the pavilion last night after the match?" "Yes." "Just so. The young gentlemen will scramble about and get through the window. The fact is." "Of course. "Oh. Outwood's house--the idea of searching a fellow-master's house did not appear to him at all a delicate task. It wanted a lick of paint bad. no. the sleuth-hound hurried across to Outwood's as fast as he could walk. sir?" "No. sir. Makes it look shabby. That is all I wished to know. All he had to do was to go to Mr. Tell me. ascertain its owner. sir. So I thought I'd better give it a coating so as to look ship-shape when the Marylebone come down. It was Sunday. blinking as if he had just woke up. sir? No." "Do you want it.his shirt-sleeves." "On the floor?" "On the floor. The only other possible theories had been tested and successfully exploded. Markby. Thank you. Markby. Just as I thought. Picture. what did you do with the pot of paint when you had finished?" "Put it in the bicycle shed. You had better get some more to-morrow. Downing walked back to the school thoroughly excited. Outwood's house somewhere. Regardless of the heat." Mr. The thing had become simple to a degree. An excellent idea. There could be no doubt that a paint-splashed boot must be in Mr. and denounce him to the headmaster. sir.

" "With acute pleasure. "What the dickens. "Or shall I fetch Mr. Smith. Downing standing in the passage with the air of one who has lost his bearings. The few articles which he may sneak from our study are of inconsiderable value. "Enough of this spoolery. found Mr." Psmith smoothed a crease out of his waistcoat and tried again. I wonder! Still. flinging the sticks through the open window of the senior day-room." It was Psmith's guiding rule in life never to be surprised at anything. "A warm afternoon. and said nothing. That is to say. The philosophical mind needs complete repose in its hours of leisure. Do you feel inclined to wait awhile till I have fetched a chair and book?" "I'll be going on. Hullo!" He stared after the sleuth-hound. who had just entered the house." said he. he was trying without success to raise the spool from the ground." "'Tis well. Downing." said Psmith. no matter. as he passed. . Outwood." said Mike. and Psmith. strolling upstairs to fetch his novel. "Er--Smith!" "Sir?" "I--er--wish to go round the dormitories. as the bobbin rolled off the string for the fourth time. sir?" "Do as I tell you. "who can do it three thousand seven hundred and something times. He is welcome to them." snapped Mr. "does he mean by barging in as if he'd bought the place?" "Comrade Downing looks pleased with himself. sir. Mike had a deck-chair in one hand and a book in the other.The only two members of the house not out in the grounds when he arrived were Mike and Psmith. They were standing on the gravel drive in front of the boys' entrance. He had just succeeded in getting the thing to spin when Mr. What brings him round in this direction. so he merely inclined his head gracefully. The sound of his footsteps disturbed Psmith and brought the effort to nothing. sir. Downing arrived. I shall be under the trees at the far end of the ground. I will be with you in about two ticks. Psmith--for even the greatest minds will sometimes unbend--was playing diabolo. "I was an ass ever to try it. "There's a kid in France. "I should be glad if you would fetch the keys and show me where the rooms are." murmured Psmith courteously." said Mike disparagingly." Mike walked on towards the field.

"I think he's out in the field. baffled. I understand." he cried." Mr. "I beg your pardon." said Psmith. sir. sir. The master snorted suspiciously. then moved on. Each boy. Mr. "Shall I lead the way. Downing rose. Outwood's boast that no boy has ever asked for a cubic foot of air in vain. Smith. Shall I show you the next in order?" "Certainly. Smith. Smith. Downing glanced swiftly beneath the three beds." he said. sir?" inquired Psmith politely. Downing nodded. Here we have----" Mr. That's further down the passage. "Is this impertinence studied. He argues justly----" He broke off abruptly and began to watch the other's manoeuvres in silence. "but are we chasing anything?" "Be good enough. Drawing blank at the last dormitory. constructed on the soundest hygienic principles. Psmith's face was wooden in its gravity. but went down to the matron's room. opening the next door and sinking his voice to an awed whisper. "Excuse me." said Psmith. "is where _I_ sleep!" Mr. "to keep your remarks to yourself. sir? No. It is Mr. having examined the last bed. sir. crimson in the face with the exercise.Psmith said no more. Mr. Smith?" "Ferguson's study." "I was only wondering. An airy room. Mr. Downing was peering rapidly beneath each bed in turn. This is Barnes'. "The studies." Mr. "Here. The frenzy of the chase is beginning to enter into my blood. Downing stopped short. Downing paused. "Show me the next dormitory. sir?" he asked. Downing with asperity. The observation escaped me unawares. An idea struck the master. sir. "This. The matron being out. opening a door." said Mr. panting slightly. Psmith waited patiently by." said Psmith. sir. . "Aha!" said Psmith." They moved on up the passage. Downing looked at him closely. he abstracted the bunch of keys from her table and rejoined the master. has quite a considerable number of cubic feet of air all to himself. "we have Barnes' dormitory. "Are you looking for Barnes.

the distant hills----" Mr. The absence of bars from the window attracted his attention." "He is the only other occupant of the room?" "Yes." said Psmith. Mr Downing was leaning out of the window. Downing was as firmly convinced at that moment that Mike's had been the hand to wield the paint-brush as he had ever been of anything . Downing suddenly started. His eye had been caught by the water-pipe at the side of the window. "This. sir. sir. Smith. putting up his eyeglass." "Never mind about his cricket."Whose is this?" he asked." "Not at all. sir." "Ah! Thank you. He spun round and met Psmith's blandly inquiring gaze. that Mr." "Nobody else comes into it?" "If they do. even in the dusk. such as there are in my house?" "There appears to be no bar. gadzooks! The boy whom he had pursued last night had been just about Jackson's size and build! Mr. Smith?" "Jackson." Mr. is it not. "A lovely view. sir?" said Psmith. The boy was precisely the sort of boy to revenge himself by painting the dog Sammy. sir. "Have you no bars to your windows here. sir. the field. Downing raked the room with a keen eye. Smith. "Whom did you say you shared this study with. "No. sir. is mine and Jackson's. Downing pondered. sir. No. The boy whom Sergeant Collard had seen climbing the pipe must have been making for this study. He looked at Psmith carefully for a moment." said Mr. The cricketer. Jackson! The boy bore him a grudge. sir. And. rapping a door. That exquisite's figure and general appearance were unmistakable. "The trees. The boy he had chased last night had not been Psmith." "I think." Mr. Downing with irritation." "What! Have you a study? You are low down in the school for it. they go out extremely quickly. Outwood gave it us rather as a testimonial to our general worth than to our proficiency in school-work.

and that that something was directed in a hostile manner against Mike. Psmith leaned against the wall." Psmith's brain was working rapidly as he went downstairs. Smith?" "Not one. he did not know. "You dropped none of the boots on your way up. "Where are Jackson's boots?" There are moments when the giddy excitement of being right on the trail causes the amateur (or Watsonian) detective to be incautious. the getting a glimpse of Mike's boots. Downing knelt on the floor beside . Edmund. by a devious and snaky route. at early dawn. Psmith had noticed." Mr. "go and bring that basket to me here. collects them. Downing uttered a grunt of satisfaction. It began to look as if the latter solution were the correct one. Mr. "His boots. probably in connection with last night's wild happenings. Downing. he would have achieved his object. But that there was something. or it might mean that he had been out all the time." he said. and dumped is down on the study floor. As it was. What exactly was at the back of the sleuth's mind. sir? He has them on." "Where is the pair he wore yesterday?" "Where are the boots of yester-year?" murmured Psmith to himself. Downing stooped eagerly over it. sir. If he had been wise. and straightened out the damaged garment. Boots flew about the room. his life. and bent once more to his task. sir. Such a moment came to Mr. "a fair selection of our various bootings. sir. I noticed them as he went out just now. he rushed straight on. trembling with excitement." Mr." "Smith. our genial knife-and-boot boy. "We have here. that he and Jellicoe were alone in the room. Downing then. that they would be in the basket downstairs. * * * * * He staggered back with the basket." said Mr. on leaving his bed at the sound of the alarm bell." said Psmith affably. That might mean that Mike had gone out through the door when the bell sounded. "Smith!" he said excitedly. he was certain. Mr. "I should say at a venture. prompting these manoeuvres. painfully conscious the while that it was creasing his waistcoat." "Would they have been cleaned yet?" "If I know Edmund. I believe. "On the spot. It was a fine performance. sir--no. Downing looked up.

wearing an expression such as a martyr might have worn on being told off for the stake. but when a housemaster's dog has been painted red in the night." "Come with me. Downing had finished. . understood what before had puzzled him. sir?" Mr. might be a trifle undignified. Psmith looked at it again. sir. boot-maker. Now come across with me to the headmaster's house. Smith. I shall take this with me. Bridgnorth. In his hand he held a boot. "Ah." he said. Downing made his way. You never knew whom you might meet on Sunday afternoon. Psmith looked at the name inside the boot. The ex-Etonian. "That's the lot. and doing so. on the following day. rose to his feet. "Put those back again.the basket. rising. "Indeed?" he said. Psmith took the boot. of the upset tin in the bicycle shed." he said. the boot-bearing Psmith in close attendance. "Yes." he said. I can't say the little chap's familiar to me. "No. then." Bridgnorth was only a few miles from his own home and Mike's. whistling softly the tune of "I do all the dirty work. and when. sir. The Head listened to the amateur detective's statement with interest. Undoubtedly it was Mike's boot. He knew nothing." "Shall I carry it. Downing left the room. one puts two and two together. After a moment Psmith followed him. carrying a dirty boot. and. Downing. of course." It occurred to him that the spectacle of a housemaster wandering abroad on the public highway. The headmaster was in his garden. At last he made a dive. "I think it would be best. of course. when Mr. Across the toe of the boot was a broad splash of red paint." as he did so. "Can you tell me whose boot that is?" asked Mr. It was "Brown. Smith." "Shall I put back that boot. You can carry it back when you return. began to pick up the scattered footgear. Leave the basket here." Mr. the housemaster goes about in search of a paint-splashed boot. sir?" "Certainly not. with an exclamation of triumph. and dug like a terrier at a rat-hole. Downing reflected. Thither Mr.

Psmith. Downing was the first to break the silence. sir. it may be that I have not examined sufficient care. fixed stare. It was a broad splash right across the toe.. Just. putting up his eyeglass. this boot with exactly where Mr."Indeed? Dear me! It certainly seems--It is a curiously well-connected thread of evidence." he said vehemently. Downing. er. But. Any doctor will tell you----" "I had an aunt. You are certain that there was red paint on this boot you discovered in Mr. Downing stood staring at the boot with a wild. Mr. CHAPTER L THE DESTROYER OF EVIDENCE The boot became the centre of attraction. sir. Mr. Mr. Downing fixed it with the piercing stare of one who feels that his brain is tottering. red or otherwise. Downing. but--Can _you_ point out to me this paint is that you speak of?" pince-nez... Smith. Smith will bear me out in this. Just Mr. "now let me so. gazed at it with a sort of affectionate interest. not uncommon. it was absolutely and entirely innocent. These momentary optical delusions are. I saw it with my own eyes. "I tell you there was a splash of red paint across the toe. you say. as if he were waiting for it to do a trick of some kind. "There was paint on this boot. "You must have made a mistake. Of any suspicion of paint. Smith!" "Sir?" "You have the boot?" "Ah. you saw the paint on this boot?" "Paint. The headmaster looked at it with a mildly puzzled expression." said Psmith chattily. "who was remarkably subject----" . There was no paint on this boot." "This is foolery. sir!" "What! Do you mean to tell me that you did _not_ see it?" "No. I brought it on purpose to show to you." said the headmaster. putting on a pair of look at--This. Outwood's house?" "I have it with me. I fancy. the cynosure of all eyes. is the--? Just so." The headmaster interposed. There is certainly no trace of paint on this boot.

sir?" . "I am positively certain the toe of this boot was red when I found it. with simple dignity. he did not look long at the boot. sir?" said Psmith." said Psmith. Downing looked searchingly at him." said Psmith with benevolent approval." "It is undoubtedly black now. If Mr. "My theory. sir? I am in the middle of a singularly impressive passage of Cicero's speech De Senectute. Smith." said Psmith." Psmith bowed courteously and proceeded. Smith could scarcely have cleaned the boot on his way to my house. Downing. I cannot have been mistaken. Smith. "What did you say." "You are very right. "May I go now. "that is surely improbable. Shall I take the boot with me. sir. I can assure you that it does not brush off. Smith. Mr." murmured Psmith. The afternoon sun. On one occasion I inadvertently spilt some paint on a shoe of my own."It is absurd. sir. "You had better be careful." "I am reading it. Downing." said the headmaster. "for pleasure. Downing." "Yes. must have shone on the boot in such a manner as to give it a momentary and fictitious aspect of redness." said the headmaster. sir. with the start of one coming suddenly out of a trance. The goaded housemaster turned on him. is that Mr." "I am sorry that you should leave your preparation till Sunday. Downing was deceived by the light and shade effects on the toe of the boot. sir." "Exactly. streaming in through the window. The mistake----" "Bah!" said Mr." said Mr." "A sort of chameleon boot. Downing shortly. had not time to fade. It needs a very systematic cleaning before all traces are removed. "it seems to me that that is the only explanation that will square with the facts. really. consequently. "My theory. I remember thinking myself." "Really. Smith?" "Did I speak. The picture on the retina of the eye. if I may----?" "Certainly. It is a habit of which I altogether disapprove. Mr. Mr. "Well. sir. Downing recollects." "I strongly suspect you of having something to do with this. A boot that is really smeared with red paint does not become black of itself in the course of a few minutes. that the boot appeared to have a certain reddish tint. at the moment.

He believed in the contemplative style rather than the hustling." said the housemaster. hurried over to Outwood's. Downing." he said. Psmith and Mike. of Psmith having substituted another boot for the one with the incriminating splash of paint on it had occurred to him almost immediately on leaving the headmaster's garden. Feeling aggrieved with himself that he had not thought of this before. if they had but known it. sir?" "Yes. and is struck with the brilliant idea that it's just possible that the boot he gave me to carry and the boot I did carry were not one boot but two boots. carefully tucking up the knees of his trousers. and the latter. the spectacle of Psmith running. Downing appeared. was a most unusual sight. every time. "is what one chiefly needs in matters of this kind. "Put that thing away. having included both masters in a kindly smile. were friends." he said to himself approvingly. he. Psmith's usual mode of progression was a dignified walk. Meanwhile----" He dragged up another chair for his feet and picked up his novel. and Mr. Put it away. Without brain. he reflected." Psmith sat down again. Smith. "That thing. too. and rose to assist him. place it in the small cupboard under the bookshelf. Mr. and watched him with silent interest through his eyeglass. Smith. The scrutiny irritated Mr. with a sigh."If Mr. bounded upstairs like a highly trained professional athlete. He had not been reading long when there was a footstep in the passage. On arriving at the study. that ridiculous glass. however. laid down his novel. his first act was to remove a boot from the top of the pile in the basket. and turning in at Outwood's gate. left the garden." . Psmith. Psmith's impulse would be to do all that lay in his power to shield Mike. he raced down the road. "I wish to look at these boots again. in fact the probability. where are we? In the soup. Downing was brisk and peremptory. Outwood's at that moment saw what. Pedestrians who had the good fortune to be passing along the road between the housemaster's house and Mr. "Sit down. "Brain. On this occasion." he said. "I can manage without your help. Downing does not want it?" The housemaster passed the fraudulent piece of evidence to Psmith without a word. reckless of possible injuries to the crease of his trousers. The possibility. Then he flung himself into a chair and panted. The next development will be when Comrade Downing thinks it over. and lock the cupboard.

" Psmith took up his book again." "May I read. He rested his elbows on his knees. pursued his investigations in the boot-basket." "Thank you. sir?" "Yes." "I guessed that that was the reason. "Yes. "Smith!" he said. and something seemed to tell him that there was the place to look. sir?" "What is in this cupboard?" "That cupboard. He was as certain as he could be of anything that the missing piece of evidence was somewhere in the study. This cupboard. and Mr. and his chin on his hands. Smith. Nothing of value or interest. "Just a few odd trifles. sir. sir. It was no use asking Psmith point-blank where it was. and resumed his contemplative inspection of the boot-expert." Mr. sir. sir." "Never mind." "I was interested in what you were doing." ."Why. "Don't sit there staring at me. Psmith had been reading placidly all the while. Downing rapped the door irritably. of harbouring the quarry. who. His eye roamed about the room. now thoroughly irritated." "I think you will find that it is locked." sighed Psmith replacing the eyeglass in his waistcoat pocket. sir?" "Why! Because I tell you to do so. read if you like. Don't stare at me in that idiotic way. sir?" asked Psmith. Then he caught sight of the cupboard. The floor could be acquitted. He went through it twice. he stood up. even for so small a fugitive as a number nine boot. Possibly an old note-book. sir. and looked wildly round the room. patiently. A ball of string. We do not often use it. "Yes. for Psmith's ability to parry dangerous questions with evasive answers was quite out of the common. after fidgeting for a few moments. lodged another complaint. There was very little cover there. After the second search. Downing." "Open it. on sight. but each time without success. perhaps.

" Mr." he said shortly. Smith?" he inquired acidly. Outwood. Then he was seized with a happy idea." Mr. He also reflected. Why should he leave the room at all? If he sent Smith. To enter his house without his permission and search it to a certain extent was all very well."Unlock it. in order to obtain his sanction for the house-breaking work which he proposed to carry through. Downing paused. there was the maddening thought that if he left the study in search of Mr. "Yes. Jackson might have taken it. And I know it's not Mr. "Are you aware whom you are talking to. I am only the acting manager. "Smith. you may depend upon it that it will take a long search to find it. sir?" "Have you not got the key?" "If the key is not in the lock. then he himself could wait and make certain that the cupboard was not tampered with." "But where is the key. If you wish to break it open. sir. if Smith were left alone in the room. sir. he would instantly remove the boot to some other hiding-place." Psmith got up." "Where is Jackson?" "Out in the field somewhere. Psmith in the meantime standing in a graceful attitude in front of the cupboard. Outwood in the general rule did not count much in the scheme of things. Downing stared. sir. amazed. "I have my reasons for thinking that you are deliberately keeping the contents of that cupboard from me." Mr. "go and find Mr. but possibly there were limits to the treating of him as if he did not exist. "I'm afraid you mustn't do that. to whom that cupboard happens to belong. "I don't believe a word of it." "Where did you see it last?" "It was in the lock yesterday morning. you must get his permission. Mr. But when it came to breaking up his furniture. Downing thought for a moment. and ask him to be good . He was perfectly convinced that the missing boot was in the cupboard. perhaps----! On the other hand. He is the sole lessee and proprietor of that cupboard. He stood chewing these thoughts for awhile. Outwood. He thoroughly disbelieved the story of the lost key. sir. Smith would be alone in the room." he said. Outwood. And he knew that. staring into vacancy. I shall break open the door.

Psmith was staring reflectively at the ceiling. but the crew would naturally decline to move in the matter until the order came from the commander of the ship. to take a parallel case. and explain to him how matters stand. Smith." There was one of those you-could-have-heard-a-pin-drop silences. I ought to have remembered that before. "I take my stand. however." Psmith still made no move. "Let us be reasonable. sir. as if he had been asked a conundrum. Mr. "Yes. sir?" said Psmith meditatively. 'Mr." he continued." Psmith waved a hand deprecatingly. ha! And by a very stripling!" It was Psmith. So in my case. Smith?" Mr. If you will go to Mr. imagine the colonel commanding the garrison at a naval station going on board a battleship and ordering the crew to splice the jibboom spanker." CHAPTER LI MAINLY ABOUT BOOTS "Be quick. Outwood. "Do you intend to disobey me. Smith." he said. who resumed the conversation. 'Psmith. I say to myself. which made it all the more a pity that what he said did not keep up the standard of docility. I was about to say that in any other place but Mr. Downing was looking as if at any moment he might say. His manner was almost too respectful. Outwood wishes you to ask him to be good enough to come to this .enough to come here for a moment. If you pressed a button. Outwood." "What!" "Yes. "_Quick_. I would do the rest. sir. But in Mr. and come back and say to me." he said. Downing's voice was steely. In----'" "This impertinence is doing you no good. as who should say. as the latter stood looking at him without making any movement in the direction of the door. Outwood's house. sir. Outwood at once. ha. It might be an admirable thing for the Empire that the jibboom spanker _should_ be spliced at that particular juncture. Outwood's house I cannot do anything except what pleases me or what is ordered by Mr. Mr. One cannot. "Go and find Mr. "Thwarted to me face. "If you will let me explain. I would fly to do your bidding. Downing is a man I admire as a human being and respect as a master. "on a technical point. your word would be law." "one cannot.

was fastened to the wall by an iron band." added Mr. Smith. "Smith. Downing was in the study." "H'm!" said Mr. Downing sharply. and. "I have been washing my hands. I saw Smith go into the bathroom. His first act was to fling the cupboard-key out into the bushes. and with him Mr." He took the key from his pocket. Then he turned to the boot." "I can assure you. Downing wishes me to do. Attaching one end of this to the boot that he had taken from the cupboard. and took out the boot. there will be a boot there when you return. I cannot quite understand what it is Mr." said Mr." . and let the boot swing that it was hidden from above by the window-sill. as the footsteps died away. he re-locked the door." "My dear Outwood. Mr." Psmith flicked a speck of dust from his coat-sleeve. Outwood with spirit. The bathroom was a few yards down the corridor. He noticed with approval. sir. sir?" "Go and fetch Mr." snapped the sleuth. "Very well. and thrust it up the chimney. "I thought I had made it perfectly clear. and washed off the soot. As an after-thought he took another boot from the basket. when it had stopped swinging. When he returned. the latter looking dazed. he went to the window.' then I shall be only too glad to go and find him." why he should not do so if he wishes it. sir. Outwood. Placing this in the cupboard. "Yes. at any rate. "I did not promise that it would be the same boot. Where is the difficulty?" "I cannot understand why you should suspect Smith of keeping his boots in a cupboard. up which Mike had started to climb the night before. Downing suspiciously. He returned to his place at the mantelpiece. as if he were not quite equal to the intellectual pressure of the situation. A shower of soot fell into the grate. unlocked the cupboard. You see my difficulty. He went there. On a level with the sill the water-pipe. catching sight of a Good-Gracious-has-the-man-_no_-sense look on the other's face. Outwood. "But. His next act was to take from the shelf a piece of string. "Where have you been. blackening his hand. Outwood. I shall not tell you again. Smith. Downing stalked out of the room. that if there is a boot in that cupboard now." Mr. He tied the other end of the string to this. Then he selected from the basket a particularly battered specimen. Smith?" asked Mr." added Psmith pensively to himself.

During the escapade one of his boots was splashed with the paint. round-eyed. as plainly as if he had spoken the words. Have you any objection?" Mr." said Psmith. Outwood. and tore the boot from its resting-place." said Psmith sympathetically. my dear fellow. sir. Let me see. if you look at it sideways. as Smith declares that he has lost the key." "He painted--!" said Mr. Downing uttered a cry of triumph. He looked up with an exclamation of surprise and wrath. and delivered two rapid blows at the cupboard-door." he said. Now. The cupboard. "This is not the boot. "This boot has no paint on it. when I lost the key----" "Are you satisfied now. glaring at Psmith. "You have touched the spot. A third blow smashed the flimsy lock. He never used them. "I've been looking for it for days." he said. and Psmith shook his head sorrowfully at Mr." said Psmith. It is that boot which I believe Smith to be concealing in this cupboard. Outwood. but they always managed to get themselves packed with the rest of his belongings on the last day of the holidays. _what_ is it you wish to do?" "This. "I told you. There's a sort of reddish glow just there. "Did you place that boot there." "If I must explain again. Outwood looked amazedly at Smith. Then. "I told you. "We must humour him. sir. Outwood with asperity. belonging to Mike. "Why?" "I don't know why. Outwood started. Downing shortly. none at all. "Objection? None at all. will you kindly give me your attention for a moment."Exactly. approvingly. Smith?" "I must have done. At any rate." "It certainly appears. There was a pair of dumb-bells on the floor." said Mr. Downing seized one of these. I propose to break open the door of this cupboard. do you understand?" Mr. Mr. Psmith'a expression said. my dear Outwood. Mr. was open for all to view." "I wondered where that boot had got to. and painted my dog Sampson red. The wood splintered." "So with your permission. Last night a boy broke out of your house." Mr. with any skeletons it might contain. Downing was examining his find. he did. "or is there any more furniture you wish to break?" . "to be free from paint." he added helpfully. Downing?" interrupted Mr.

"Ah.The excitement of seeing his household goods smashed with a dumb-bell had made the archaeological student quite a swashbuckler for the moment. A Outwood's set him fizzing off on the trail caught sight of the little pile of soot in inspect it. "I must remember to have the chimneys swept. and the result was like some gruesome burlesque of a nigger minstrel. SMITH?"] "Yes. for at the same instant his fingers had closed upon what he was seeking. working with the rapidity of a buzz-saw. He straightened himself and brushed a bead of perspiration from his face with the back of his hand. not to have given me all this trouble. The sleuth-hound stood still for a moment. once more. He looked up. "Did--you--put--that--boot--there. An avalanche of soot fell upon his hand and wrist. rolling in a fine frenzy from heaven to earth." "Then what did you _MEAN_ by putting it there?" roared Mr. and thrust an arm up into the unknown. He bent down to "Dear me. Smith. Downing's mind at that moment contained one single thought. Smith?" he asked slowly. Outwood had the grate. baffled. but he ignored it. But his brain was chance remark of Mr. also focussed itself on the pile of soot. You were not quite clever enough. he used the sooty hand. and one could imagine him giving Mr. sir. [Illustration: "DID--YOU--PUT--THAT--BOOT--THERE. and a thrill went through him. "You may have reason to change your opinion of what constitutes----" His voice failed as his eye fell on the all-black toe of the boot. though. It should have been done before. Soot in the fireplace! Smith washing his hands! ("You know my methods." he said. and caught Psmith's benevolent gaze. and that thought was "What ho for the chimney!" He dived forward with a rush." "No. A little more. after all. from earth to heaven." "You would have done better. Downing's eye. nearly knocking Mr. "We all make mistakes. Mr." "It's been great fun. Downing. Smith. sir." argued Psmith.") Mr. sir." said Psmith." he said. "WHAT!" ." Mr. Apply them. "I thought as much. sir. hard knock. Downing a good. Downing laughed grimly. Unfortunately. my dear Watson." said Psmith patiently. "Fun!" Mr. Outwood off his feet. "Animal spirits. You have done yourself no good by it.

as he had said. until he should have thought out a scheme. quite covered. "Soot!" "Your face is covered. for a man of refinement. he took the count. my dear fellow. Having restored the basket to its proper place. "You will hear more of this. he went up to the study again. Let me show you the way to my room. "your face. for the time being. but on the whole it had been worth it. Really. "My dear Downing. worked in some mysterious cell. accordingly. soap. Outwood. . far from the madding crowd." Then he allowed Mr. * * * * * When they had gone. and sponges. It was the knock-out. intervened. and it had cut into his afternoon. to battle any longer against the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Outwood really would have the chimneys swept. a point where the spirit definitely refuses. you present a most curious appearance. he saw. Psmith went to the window."Animal spirits." he said. at the back of the house. He went down beneath it. For. It had been trying. And he rather doubted if he would be able to do so. Nobody would think of looking there a second time. even if he could get hold of the necessary implements for cleaning it." he said." said Psmith. Psmith went to the bathroom to wash his hands again. You must come and wash it. His fears were realised. You are quite black. and hauled in the string. and it was improbable that Mr. It seemed to him that. "I say you will hear more of it. Mr. the best thing he could do would be to place the boot in safe hiding." "It certainly has a faintly sooty aspect. His voice roused the sufferer to one last flicker of spirit. It would take a lot of cleaning. In the boot-cupboard downstairs there would probably be nothing likely to be of any use. He felt the calm after-glow which comes to the general after a successfully conducted battle." What Mr. Downing would have replied to this one cannot tell. Smith. the boot-boy. The problem now was what to do with the painted boot. Outwood to lead him out to a place where there were towels. The odds were that he had forgotten about it already. just as he was opening his mouth. though one can guess roughly. In the language of the Ring. at about the same height where Mr. sir. Edmund. Downing had found the other. positively. most. and placed the red-toed boot in the chimney." In all times of storm and tribulation there comes a breaking-point. "Soot!" he murmured weakly. It is positively covered with soot. sir. The boot-cupboard was empty. with the feeling that he had done a good day's work. catching sight of his Chirgwin-like countenance. Downing could not bear up against this crowning blow. of course. Mr.

which would be excessive if he had sand-bagged the headmaster. the thing creates a perfect sensation. He made the mistake of not telling Mike of the afternoon's happenings. he should not wear shoes. Psmith was no exception to the rule. "Jones. sir. Mr. had no views on the subject. I mean--Oh. but. "No. Boys say. some wag is sure either to stamp on the . there's the bell. It is only a deviation from those ordinary rules of school life. He forgot what the consequences might be if he did not. what am I to do? Where is the other boot?" "Don't know. summoned from the hinterland of the house to give his opinion why only one of Mike's boots was to be found. thank goodness.CHAPTER LII ON THE TRAIL AGAIN The most massive minds are apt to forget things at times. The most adroit plotters make their little mistakes. "One? What's the good of that." Edmund turned this over in his mind. if he does." he said. to be gained from telling Mike. should he prefer them. "Well. where the regulations say that coats only of black or dark blue are to be worn. and then said. It was not altogether forgetfulness." replied Edmund to both questions. as if he hoped that Mike might be satisfied with a compromise. Jackson." as much as to say. So in the case of boots." "Well." And Mike sprinted off in the pumps he stood in. what _have_ you got on?" Masters say. you chump? I can't go over to school in one boot. He seemed to look on it as one of those things which no fellow can understand. if the day is fine. for instance. Psmith was one of those people who like to carry through their operations entirely by themselves. Where there is only one in a secret the secret is more liable to remain unrevealed. At a school. dash it. which one observes naturally and without thinking. There is no real reason why. a boy who appears one day in even the most respectable and unostentatious brown finds himself looked on with a mixture of awe and repulsion. Mr. Edmund. I can still understand sound reasoning. But. with the result that Mike went over to school on the Monday morning in pumps. "I may have lost a boot. "Great Scott. he thought. School rules decree that a boy shall go to his form-room in boots. There was nothing. Jackson. "'Ere's one of 'em. So Psmith kept his own counsel. that enables one to realise how strong public-school prejudices really are. _what_ are you wearing on your feet?" In the few minutes which elapse between the assembling of the form for call-over and the arrival of the form-master. Edmund.

just as people who dislike cats always know when one is in a room with them." whereupon Stone resumed his seat with the feeling that the age of miracles had . called his name. "I have lost one of my boots. Mike. since his innings against Downing's on the Friday. leaning back against the next row of desks. and finally "That will do. abuse. Stone. as worms. Mike had always been coldly distant in his relations to the rest of his form. was taken unawares. They cannot see it. he floundered hopelessly. sir. It had been the late Dunster's practice always to go over to school in shoes when. with a few exceptions. as he usually did." "You are wearing pumps? Are you not aware that PUMPS are not the proper things to come to school in? Why are you wearing _PUMPS_?" The form. When he found the place in his book and began to construe. turning to Stone. had seen him through very nearly to the quarter to eleven interval. He waged war remorselessly against shoes. and the form. had regarded Mike with respect." A kind of gulp escaped from Mr. accordingly... Mr. had not been in his place for three minutes when Mr. detention--every weapon was employed by him in dealing with their wearers. or else to pull one of them off. Downing always detected him in the first five minutes. There is a sort of instinct which enables some masters to tell when a boy in their form is wearing shoes instead of boots. Downing's lips. Jackson?" "Pumps. On one occasion. Downing. lines. and that meant a lecture of anything from ten minutes to a quarter of an hour on Untidy Habits and Boys Who Looked like Loafers--which broke the back of the morning's work nicely. "_What_ are you wearing on your feet. and inaugurate an impromptu game of football with it. but they feel it in their bones. the form-master appeared to notice nothing wrong. he felt shaky in the morning's lesson. including his journey over to the house to change the heel-less atrocities. Satire.. when a particularly tricky bit of Livy was on the bill of fare. Then. There was once a boy who went to school one morning in elastic-sided boots. settled itself comfortably for the address from the throne. to his growing surprise and satisfaction. Mr. He said "Yes. stiffening like a pointer. It was only Mr. So that he escaped the ragging he would have had to undergo at Wrykyn in similar circumstances. Downing was perhaps the most bigoted anti-shoeist in the whole list of English schoolmasters. yes. Dunster had entered the form-room in heel-less Turkish bath-slippers. But. and the subsequent proceedings. sir?" said Mike. looking on them. "Yes. accompanying the act with some satirical remark. He stared at Mike for a moment in silence. Downing who gave trouble. sir. of a vivid crimson." he told him to start translating. who had been expecting at least ten minutes' respite.

completed the chain. Mike's appearance in shoes. that they were fed up with Adair administration and meant to strike. he gathered up his gown. and no strain. Mr. and what are your impressions of our glorious country?" so did Mr. had shirked early-morning fielding-practice in his first term at Wrykyn. The result was that they went back to the house for breakfast with a never-again feeling. Downing's mind was in a whirl. consequently." "Personally. came to a momentous decision." said Robinson. They were neither of them of the type which likes to undergo hardships for the common good. discussing the subject of cricket over a bun and ginger-beer at the school shop. however. it is no joke taking a high catch. to whom cricket was the great and serious interest of life. he had now added to this an extra dose to be taken before breakfast. that searching test of cricket keenness. said. Stone's dislike of the experiment was only equalled by Robinson's. in the cool morning air. In view of the M. Until the sun has really got to work. but neither cared greatly whether the school had a good season or not. jumping on board. CHAPTER LIII THE KETTLE METHOD It was during the interval that day that Stone and Robinson. had been put upon Stone's and Robinson's allegiance.C. When the bell rang at a quarter to eleven. I mean. "It's all rot. As a rule. His case was complete. "if it wasn't bad for the heart. At all costs another experience like to-day's must be avoided. sir. Downing feel at that moment. Rushing about on an empty stomach. Stone and Robinson had left their comfortable beds that day at six o'clock. gnawing his bun. The immediate cause of revolt was early-morning fielding-practice. Adair had contented himself with practice in the afternoon after school.returned. to wit. They played well enough when on the field." . As Columbus must have felt when his ship ran into harbour. Mike himself. and all that sort of thing. which nobody objects to. and at the earliest possible moment met to debate as to what was to be done about it." "I shouldn't wonder. compared with Mike's. "I don't intend to stick it. and had caught catches and fielded drives which. match on the Wednesday. They played the game entirely for their own sakes. and sped to the headmaster." said Stone. And Stone and Robinson had but a luke-warm attachment to the game. and the first American interviewer. "Wal." said Stone.C. had stung like adders and bitten like serpents. "What on earth's the good of sweating about before breakfast? It only makes you tired. yawning and heavy-eyed. with the explanation that he had lost a boot.

" "Before breakfast?" said Robinson. Mr. found himself two short. was accustomed the body with that of the he was silent and apparently wrapped in sat at the top of the table with Adair on at the morning meal to blend nourishment of mind." "I mean. you know. the keenness of those under him. but of the other two representatives of Outwood's house there were no signs." "I don't think he will kick us out. beyond the fact that he had not seen them about anywhere. Adair proceeded with the fielding-practice without further delay. questioned on the subject. turning out with the team next morning for fielding-practice. "He can do what he likes about it. what can he do. The result of all this was that Adair. Which was not a great help. and the chance of making runs greater. we'll go and play for that village Jackson plays for." he said. consequently. are easily handled. practically helpless. Besides. At breakfast that morning thought. "Rather. Barnes. You two must buck up." And he passed on." "All right." Their position was a strong one. he'd better find somebody else. With the majority.C. "I'm hanged if I turn out to-morrow. and. wherever and however made. unless he is a man of action.C. Stone was the first to recover. If we aren't good enough to play for the team without having to get up overnight to catch catches. He can't play the M. But when a cricket captain runs up against a boy who does not much care whether he plays for the team or not. Stone and Robinson felt secure. as they left the shop. "Fielding-practice again to-morrow. Downing. "Let's. The bowling of the opposition would be weaker in the former case. To a certain type of cricketer runs are runs." said Robinson. they felt that they would just as soon play for Lower Borlock as for the school. of course. it's such absolute rot. Taking it all round. then he finds himself in a difficult position. who his right. either. the fear of being excluded or ejected from a team is a spur that drives. We'll get Jackson to shove us into the team. If he does. after all? Only kick us out of the team. And I don't mind that. with a scratch team." "Yes."Nor do I. leaving the two malcontents speechless. Barnes was among those present. had no information to give. You were rotten to-day. A cricket captain may seem to be an autocrat of tremendous power. but in reality he has only one weapon. "at six. As a rule he had ten minutes with the ." he said briskly." "Nor do I." At this moment Adair came into the shop. The majority.

It was not until after school that an opportunity offered itself. usually formed an interested and appreciative audience. Why not?" Stone had rehearsed this scene in his mind. "You were rather fed-up." "Sorry it bored you. not having seen the paper. "Sorry. I suppose?" "That's just the word. and that a butter famine was expected in the United States. "Hullo. physical or moral." he said. We came to the conclusion that we hadn't any use for early-morning fielding. He resolved to interview the absentees. which caused the kicker to overbalance and stagger backwards against the captain. who left the lead to Stone in all matters." Adair's manner became ominously calm. "I know you didn't. . We didn't give it the chance to. He was wondering what to do in this matter of Stone and Robinson. He went across to Outwood's and found the two non-starters in the senior day-room." "Oh?" "Yes. said nothing. Many captains might have passed the thing over. But Adair was not the sort of person who seeks for safe and convenient ways out of difficulties." "It didn't. Adair!" "Don't mention it. and it was his practice to hand on the results of his reading to Adair and the other house-prefects." Robinson laughed appreciatively. who. though the house-prefects expressed varying degrees of excitement at the news that Tyldesley had made a century against Gloucestershire. He champed his bread and marmalade with an abstracted air. To-day. "We didn't turn up. engaged in the intellectual pursuit of kicking the wall and marking the height of each kick with chalk. Stone spoke. Adair's entrance coincided with a record effort by Stone. "We decided not to. these world-shaking news-items seemed to leave Adair cold. Why weren't you two at fielding-practice this morning?" Robinson. however.daily paper before the bell rang." said Stone. To take it for granted that the missing pair had overslept themselves would have been a safe and convenient way out of the difficulty. and he spoke with the coolness which comes from rehearsal. He never shirked anything.

I'll give you till five past six." Stone intervened. We'll play for the school all right." "That's only your opinion." said the junior partner in the firm." "Well. with some haste." "Don't be an ass. "It's no good making a row about it. "You've quite made up your minds?" "Yes. So we're all right. as you seem to like lying in bed." "You don't think there is? You may be right. You must see that you can't do anything. Jackson will get us a game any Wednesday or Saturday for the village he plays for. There's no earthly need for us to turn out for fielding-practice before breakfast. Adair had pushed the table back." "What are you going to do? Kick us out?" "No. He was up again in a moment. and knocked him down."What's the joke. "Right. "You cad. Shall we go on?" . Don't be late." "What!" "Six sharp. "I was only thinking of something. The atmosphere was growing a great deal too tense for his comfort. you are now. but we don't care if you do. See what I mean?" "You and Jackson seem to have fixed it all up between you." "I'll give you something else to think about soon. you can kick us out of the team." said Adair quietly." "You can turn out if you feel like it." said Stone. "There's no joke. Nor Robinson?" "No. We've told you we aren't going to." said Robinson. "I wasn't ready. You won't find me there. All the same. I thought you'd see it was no good making a beastly row. Of course. I think you are. you're going to to-morrow morning. Adair." "Good." said Stone. but he said it without any deep conviction. And the school team aren't such a lot of flyers that you can afford to go chucking people out of it whenever you want to. if you like." "That'll be a disappointment. and was standing in the middle of the open space. Adair. Robinson?" asked Adair.

He was not altogether a coward. In different circumstances he might have put up a respectable show.Stone dashed in without a word." CHAPTER LIV ADAIR HAS A WORD WITH MIKE Mike. and it did not take him long to make up his mind. and he knew more about the game." said Adair. Adair was smaller and lighter than Stone." he said hastily. and Adair had disposed of Stone in a little over one minute. and for a few moments the two might have seemed evenly matched to a not too intelligent spectator. "You don't happen to know if he's in. all unconscious of the stirring proceedings which had been going . He got up slowly and stood leaning with one hand on the table." said Stone. "All right." Stone was dabbing at his mouth with a handkerchief. "I'll turn up." said Adair. "Suppose we say ten past six?" said Adair. "I wonder if either of you chaps could tell me which is Jackson's study. How about you." said Adair. a task which precluded anything in the shape of conversation." "I'll go and see. but he was cooler and quicker. so Robinson replied that Mike's study was the first you came to on the right of the corridor at the top of the stairs." Stone made no reply. "Thanks. His blow was always home a fraction of a second sooner than his opponent's. Robinson?" Robinson had been a petrified spectator of the Captain-Kettle-like manoeuvres of the cricket captain. But it takes a more than ordinarily courageous person to embark on a fight which he knows must end in his destruction. "Will ten past six suit you for fielding-practice to-morrow?" said Adair. even in a confined space. But science tells. "All right. I suppose?" "He went up with Smith a quarter of an hour ago. "I should like a word with him if he isn't busy." "Good. At the end of a minute Stone was on the floor again. "Thanks. "I'm not particular to a minute or two. It seemed to Robinson that neither pleasure nor profit was likely to come from an encounter with Adair. Robinson knew that he was nothing like a match even for Stone. I don't know if he's still there.

returned with a rush. but a bit of jolly good luck for Wrykyn. Psmith was the first to speak. And it was at this point. fortunately. and went on reading. including Dixon.on below stairs. The M. who was leaning against the mantelpiece. contracted in the course of some rash experiments with a day-boy's motor-bicycle. had smashed them by a hundred and fifty runs. The Ripton match. made the intruder free of the study with a dignified wave of the hand. entered the room. in which the successor to the cricket captaincy which should have been Mike's had a good deal to say in a lugubrious strain. owing to an outbreak of mumps at that shrine of learning and athletics--the second outbreak of the malady in two terms. He's had a . Since this calamity. In school cricket the importance of a good start for the first wicket is incalculable. "If you ask my candid opinion. It might have made all the difference. to go in first and knock the bowlers off their length. In school cricket one good batsman. This was one of them. the only man who had shown any signs of being able to bowl a side out. that Adair. Geddington had wiped them off the face of the earth.C. was hard lines on Ripton. Wrykyn had struck a bad patch. There are moments in life's placid course when there has got to be the biggest kind of row." he said. it was Strachan's opinion that the Wrykyn team that summer was about the most hopeless gang of dead-beats that had ever made an exhibition of itself on the school grounds. As he put Strachan's letter away in his pocket. the concrete representative of everything Sedleighan. looking up from his paper. was off. with a team recruited exclusively from the rabbit-hutch--not a well-known man on the side except Stacey. Altogether. when his resentment was at its height. The Incogs. "I should say that young Lord Antony Trefusis was in the soup already. A broken arm. reading the serial story in a daily paper which he had abstracted from the senior day-room. against whom Mike alone of the Wrykyn team had been able to make runs in the previous season. Which. wrote Strachan. said Strachan. If only he could have been there to help. the fast bowler.. everything had gone wrong. all his old bitterness against Sedleigh. had deprived the team of the services of Dunstable. Ripton having eight of their last year's team left. He was conscious once more of that feeling of personal injury which had made him hate his new school on the first day of term. may take a weak team triumphantly through a season. Mike mourned over his suffering school. led by Mike's brother Reggie. which had been ebbing during the past few days. the least of the three first-class-cricketing Jacksons. and contented himself with glaring at the newcomer. a veteran who had been playing for the club since Fuller Pilch's time--had got home by two wickets. In fact. * * * * * Psmith. In Mike's absence things had been going badly with Wrykyn. Mike remained in the deck-chair in which he was sitting. was peacefully reading a letter he had received that morning from Strachan at Wrykyn.C. I seem to see the _consommé_ splashing about his ankles. as it had saved them from what would probably have been a record hammering.

knave.note telling him to be under the oak-tree in the Park at midnight. "Certainly. match was on the following day made this a probable solution of the reason for his visit. "We weren't exactly idle." "An excellent way of passing an idle half-hour. Speed is the key-note of the present age. We----" "Buck up." said Psmith." "Stone and I had a discussion about early-morning fielding-practice. He's just off there at the end of this instalment. "has led your footsteps to the right place. Psmith was regarding Adair through his eyeglass with pain and surprise. is waiting there with a sandbag." "That. "I'm not the man I was. but there was no mistaking the truculence of Adair's manner." he said. Promptitude. and resting his elbows on the mantelpiece. Such a bad example for Comrade Robinson." said Adair. Comrade Adair? Or don't you take any interest in contemporary literature?" "Thanks. Despatch." said Adair. Leave us. dark circles beneath my eyes. We would brood." ." Mike got up out of his chair. and Mike in his present mood felt that it would be a privilege to see that he got it. We must hustle." said Psmith. He could think of no other errand that was likely to have set the head of Downing's paying afternoon calls. sitting before you. "I just wanted to speak to Jackson for a minute. This is no time for loitering. Adair was looking for trouble." said Adair grimly. Adair. Oh." he sighed.C. That is Comrade Jackson. "Surely." said Mike. "It didn't last long. "I've just been talking to Stone and Robinson. which might possibly be made dear later. the poacher. He could not quite follow what all this was about." "Fate.C. It won't take long. the Pride of the School. "is right. after a prolonged inspection. I'll none of thee. but it was pretty lively while it did. Stone chucked it after the first round. For some reason. The fierce rush of life at Sedleigh is wasting me away. We must Do It Now." "What do you want?" said Mike. Care to see the paper. The fact that the M. He suspected that Adair had come to ask him once again to play for the school." said Psmith approvingly." Psmith turned away. "There are lines on my face. too. I bet Long Jack. We must be strenuous. "I'll tell you in a minute. I thought that you and he were like brothers. Shakespeare. "you do not mean us to understand that you have been _brawling_ with Comrade Stone! This is bad hearing. gazed at himself mournfully in the looking-glass. go thee.

rather. "I get thinner and thinner. stepped between them. "I'm afraid you'll be disappointed. Adair moved to meet him. "I thought his fielding wanted working up a bit. So is Robinson. "So are you. "Oh?" said Mike at last. You aren't building on it much. "I'm going to make you. However. He said he wouldn't." "What's that?" "You're going to play for the school against the M. are you?" said Mike politely. "What makes you think that?" "I don't think." replied Adair with equal courtesy. so I told him to turn out at six to-morrow morning. Mike said nothing. and in that second Psmith." "I don't think so." "I wonder how you got that idea!" "Curious I should have done. "are a bit close together. to-morrow. so we argued it out. Mike looked at Adair." Mike took another step forward. For just one second the two drew themselves together preparatory to beginning the serious business of the interview. I know.C." added Adair.C. "What makes you think I shall play against the M." "Any special reason for my turning out?" "Yes." Mike drew a step closer to Adair. isn't it?" "Very. . He's going to all right. There was an electric silence in the study." said Psmith from the mantelpiece. "I am.said Adair. "Would you care to try now?" said Mike. "it's too late to alter that now." "My eyes. after the manner of two dogs before they fly at one another." he added philosophically. Psmith peered with increased earnestness into the glass. and I want you to get some practice.?" he asked curiously.C.C." Mike remained silent. turning from the glass." said Psmith regretfully. and Adair looked at Mike. turning to Mike.

Comrades Adair and Jackson? Very well. If you really feel that you want to scrap. A man who is down will have ten seconds in which to rise. where you can scrap all night if you want to. In a fight each party. and at the end of the last round one expects to resume that attitude of mind. for goodness sake do it where there's some room. there should have been cautious sparring for openings and a number of tensely contested rounds. when they do occur--which is only once in a decade nowadays. only a few yards down the road. "My dear young friends. But school fights. one was probably warmly attached to him." said Mike. without his guiding hand. But when you propose to claw each other in my study. and all Mike wanted was to get at Adair."Get out of the light. Time. I don't want all the study furniture smashed. I know a bank whereon the wild thyme grows." he said. "if you _will_ let your angry passions rise. The latter was a clever boxer. Are you ready. against the direct advice of Doctor Watts. took on something of the impressive formality of the National Sporting Club. "will be of three minutes' duration. Psmith waved him back with a deprecating gesture. nothing could have prevented him winning. then. Under his auspices the most unpromising ventures became somehow enveloped in an atmosphere of measured stateliness. as if it had been the final of a boxing competition. producing a watch. unless you count junior school scuffles--are the outcome of weeks of suppressed bad blood. a mere unscientific scramble. with his opponent cool and boxing in his true form. Smith. while Mike had never had a lesson in his life." After which. as they passed through a gate into a field a couple of hundred yards from the house gate. So it happened that there was nothing formal or cautious about the present battle. what would have been. however much one may want to win. Directly Psmith called "time. Dramatically. Up to the moment when "time" was called. with a minute rest in between. it was a pity that the actual fight did not quite live up to its referee's introduction. one does not dislike one's opponent. On the present occasion. as a rule. I lodge a protest. "The rounds. In a boxing competition. and are consequently brief and furious. How would it be to move on there? Any objections? None? Then shift ho! and let's get it over. If Adair had kept away and used his head. in the midst of a hundred fragile and priceless ornaments." he said placidly." they rushed together as if they meant to end the thing in half a minute. In an ordinary contest with the gloves. hates the other. I suppose you must. It was this that saved Mike." CHAPTER LV CLEARING THE AIR Psmith was one of those people who lend a dignity to everything they touch. . he could not have lasted three rounds against Adair. All Adair wanted was to get at Mike.

much as Tom Brown did at the beginning of his fight with Slogger Williams. knocked his man clean off his feet with an unscientific but powerful right-hander. He'll be sitting up and taking notice soon. and he found this new acquaintance a man to be respected. "Brief. All he understood was that his man was on his feet again and coming at him. to be the conclusion of the entertainment." Mike put on his coat and walked back to the house. For a moment he stood blinking vaguely. in the course of which Mike's left elbow. It was the Frontal Attack in its most futile form. however. Mike could not see this. if I were you. He got up slowly and with difficulty. . and then Adair went down in a heap. but Jackson. he felt an undeniable thrill of pride at having beaten him. He went in at Mike with both hands. If it's going to be continued in our next. We may take that. about the most exciting thing that ever happens to one in the course of one's life--it is difficult for the fighters to see what the spectators see. he knew. The feat presented that interesting person. "_He's_ all right. He rose full of fight. "but exciting. Mike's blow had taken him within a fraction of an inch of the point of the jaw. was strange to him. Mike Jackson. chief among which was a curious feeling that he rather liked Adair. Jackson. The Irish blood in him. You go away and pick flowers. the deliverer of knock-out blows. and that it was a pity he had knocked him about so much.As it was. that there was something to be said for his point of view. do you think?" asked Mike. I think. and this time Adair went down and stayed down. and Adair looked unpleasantly corpse-like. He was conscious of a perplexing whirl of new and strange emotions. Mike had the greater strength. and. got a shock which kept it tingling for the rest of the day. and the result was the same as on that historic occasion. to him in a fresh and pleasing light. In the excitement of a fight--which is. which would do him no earthly good. thirty seconds from the start. Where the spectators see an assault on an already beaten man. the fighter himself only sees a legitimate piece of self-defence against an opponent whose chances are equal to his own. coming forward. Then he lurched forward at Mike. that Adair was done. and as unsuccessful as a frontal attack is apt to be. He had seen knock-outs before in the ring. as one who had had a tough job to face and had carried it through. There was a swift exchange of blows. Psmith saw. now rendered him reckless. there had better be a bit of an interval for alterations and repairs first. At the same time. the cricketer. I'll look after him. This finished Adair's chances." said Psmith. coming into contact with his opponent's right fist. He abandoned all attempt at guarding. as anybody looking on would have seen. he threw away his advantages. but this was the first time he had ever effected one on his own account. after all. I shouldn't stop. "In a minute or two he'll be skipping about like a little lambkin. and he was all but knocked out. and if he sees you he may want to go on with the combat. which for the ordinary events of life made him merely energetic and dashing." "Is he hurt much. I will now have a dash at picking up the slain. but with all the science knocked out of him. so he hit out with all his strength. He found himself thinking that Adair was a good chap." said Psmith.

" he said." said Mike indignantly. He had come to this conclusion. to return to the point under discussion. why not drop him a line to say that you'll play against the M. to-morrow?" Mike did not reply at once. "I told him he didn't know the old _noblesse oblige_ spirit of the Jacksons. "It wouldn't be a bad idea. And as he's leaving at the end of the term. "Sitting up and taking nourishment once more. to a certain extent. There had appeared to him something rather fine in his policy of refusing to identify himself in any way with Sedleigh. However. not afraid of work." continued Psmith. but Comrade Adair seems to have done it.C. It revolutionised Mike's view of things. Where. There was a pause.' game. He's all for giving Sedleigh a much-needed boost-up.The fight. "How's Adair?" asked Mike. after much earnest thought. and drained the bad blood out of him. by making the cricket season a bit of a banger. if they are fought fairly and until one side has had enough. I don't see why one shouldn't humour him." said Mike. You didn't." "He's all right. He now saw that his attitude was to be summed up in the words.C. "There's nothing like giving a man a bit in every now and then. he had seemed to himself to be acting with massive dignity. but he was not sure that he was quite prepared to go as far as a complete climb-down. if possible. had the result which most fights have. when Psmith entered the study." It came upon Mike with painful clearness that he had been making an ass of himself. He was feeling better disposed towards Adair and Sedleigh than he had felt. Comrade Adair's rather a stoutish fellow in his way. I shouldn't have thought anybody would get overwhelmingly attached to this abode of wrath. He's not a bad cove. it mightn't be a scaly scheme to give him a bit of a send-off. a touch of the stone-walls-do-not-a-prison-make sort of thing. My eloquence convinced him. he now saw that he had simply been sulking like some wretched kid. It's not a bad idea in its way. but it seems to me that there's an opening here for a capable peace-maker. "I seldom interfere in terrestrial strife. "Sha'n't play. in fact. It broadens the soul and improves the action of the skin. Jones. What seems to have fed up Comrade Adair. I said that you would scorn to tarnish the Jackson escutcheon by not playing the game. "Look here. but every one to his taste. I'm not much on the 'Play up for the old school. Psmith straightened his tie. is that Stone apparently led him to understand that you had offered to give him and Robinson places in your village team. of course?" "Of course not. We have been chatting. why not?" . Apparently he's been sweating since early childhood to buck the school up. before. It shook him up. As a start. and willing to give his services in exchange for a comfortable home.

" "Then why haven't you played?" "Why haven't you?" "Why didn't you come and play for Lower Borlock. I was told that this year I should be a certainty for Lord's. and drifted with the stream. when he finds that his keenest archaeological disciple has deserted. Last year. I do." said Psmith." "No. "that you fear that you may be in unworthy company----" "Don't be an ass."I don't--What I mean to say--" began Mike." "But you told me you didn't like cricket. breathing on a coat-button. when I came here. I did think. but look here." "----Dismiss it. Comrade Jackson. into a slow left-hand bowler with a swerve. I fought against it. "If your trouble is. And in time the thing becomes a habit. "Can you play cricket?" "You have discovered. Imagine my feelings when I found that I was degenerating. and polishing it with his handkerchief. little by little. My nerves are so exquisitely balanced that a thing of that sort takes years off my life. However----" . It would have been madness to risk another such shock to my system. in a house match"--Psmith's voice took on a deeper tone of melancholy--"I took seven for thirteen in the second innings on a hard wicket." said Psmith. bar rotting. and after a while I gave up the struggle." "Quite right. _I_ am playing. But at schools where cricket is compulsory you have to overcome your private prejudices. but it was useless. Smith. that I had found a haven of rest. I mean?" "The last time I played in a village cricket match I was caught at point by a man in braces." "You're rotting." "You wrong me. where was I? Gone. I hate to think. but it was not to be. But when the cricket season came." Mike stared. "You're what? You?" "I." said Psmith. "my secret sorrow. Are you really any good at cricket?" "Competent judges at Eton gave me to understand so. Gone like some beautiful flower that withers in the night. What Comrade Outwood will say. You said you only liked watching it. I turn out to-morrow.

but useless to anybody who values life." On arriving at Mr." he said to himself. But. I don't know. "By Jove. and if you see anybody downstairs who looks as if he were likely to be going over to the shop. wavering on the point of playing for the school. what beastly rough luck! I'd no idea. I'll play. Close the door gently after you. so had Psmith been disappointed of his place in the Eton team at Lord's. Anyhow. he and Psmith had been acting on precisely similar motives. Just as he had been disappointed of the captaincy of cricket at Wrykyn. and whether it was that your elbow was particularly tough or his wrist particularly fragile. did not consider it too much of a climb-down to renounce his resolution not to play for Sedleigh. it went. I'll write a note to Adair now. The jam Comrade Outwood supplies to us at tea is all right as a practical joke or as a food for those anxious to commit suicide." CHAPTER LVI IN WHICH PEACE IS DECLARED "Sprained his wrist?" said Mike. Then in a flash Mike understood. He's not playing against the M. He was not by nature intuitive." "That's all right. You won't have to. "if you're playing. I'll go round. Apparently one of his efforts got home on your elbow instead of your expressive countenance. and here was Psmith. Psmith whimsically. as the storm. He's sprained his wrist. And they had both worked it off. It's nothing bad. but it'll keep him out of the game to-morrow. each in his own way--Mike sullenly. the last person whom he would have expected to be a player. A spot of rain fell on his hand. I say--" he stopped--"I'm hanged if I'm going to turn out and field before breakfast to-morrow.C. "How did he do that?" "During the brawl. according to their respective natures--on Sedleigh. stating calmly that he had been in the running for a place in the Eton eleven. there was nothing to stop Mike doing so. The lock-up bell rang as he went out of the house.C." "I say." he said. therefore. Downing's and going to Adair's study. The whole face of his world had undergone a quick change.Mike felt as if a young and powerful earthquake had passed. If Psmith. "At this rate. broke in earnest. A moment later there was a continuous patter. Here was he. which had been gathering all day. and ran back to Outwood's. ask him to get me a small pot of some rare old jam and tell the man to chalk it up to me. but he read Psmith's mind now. He left a note informing him of his willingness to play in the morrow's match. Mike found that his late antagonist was out. the recalcitrant. Adair won't be there himself. Mike turned up his coat-collar." "Not a bad scheme. Since the term began. "there won't be a match at all . as--at the bottom of his heart--he wanted to do.

I should think." "I often do cut it rather fine. met Adair at Downing's gate. it does the thing thoroughly. "Right ho!" said Adair." "Beastly nuisance when one does. isn't it?" said Mike. Leaden-coloured clouds drifted over the sky." "I hate having to hurry over to school. determined way rain has when it means to make a day of it. with discoloured buckskin boots. We've got plenty of time. if one didn't hurry. Adair fished out his watch. after behaving well for some weeks." Another silence. Mike stopped--he could hardly walk on as if nothing had happened--and looked down at his feet. shuffling across to school in a Burberry. They walked on in silence. yes. and examined it with an elaborate care born of nervousness. Mike." "So do I. damp and depressed. "Coming across?" he said awkwardly." "It's only about a couple of minutes from the houses to the school." "Yes. "It's only about ten So do I." "Beastly. crawl miserably about the field in couples. These moments are always difficult. Might be three." "Oh. to show what it can do in another direction. It was one of those bad days when one sits in the pavilion." "Good. . while figures in mackintoshes. in the gentle. though. When Mike woke the next morning the world was grey and dripping." * * * * * When the weather decides. shouldn't you?" "Not much more. till there was not a trace of blue to be seen." "Yes. and then the rain began again." "Yes. Three if one didn't hurry. "About nine to.

doesn't it?" "Rotten." "I bet you anything you like you would. It looks pretty bad." said Adair."Beastly day. I say. Jolly hard luck." "Oh.." said Mike. that's all right." "We've heaps of time.." "What's the time?" asked Mike." "Oh." "I'd no idea you'd crocked yourself." "Yes. that's all right. Smith turning out to be a cricketer. thanks awfully for saying you'd play." Silence again. no." "Rummy." "Now that you and Smith are going to play. we ought to have a jolly good season. Do you think we shall get a game?" Adair inspected the sky carefully. "I don't know. no. It was my fault." "Oh." "Oh.. how long will your wrist keep you out of cricket?" "Be all right in a week. probably. I say. rot. "Five to.. "awfully sorry about your wrist. rot. It was only right at the end. You'd have smashed me anyhow. Less." .. Adair produced his watch once more. rather not. "Rotten.. scowling at his toes. with his height." "Oh. just before the match. "I say. I should think he'd be a hot bowler." "Good.. no.." "Yes." "I bet you I shouldn't.." "He must be jolly good if he was only just out of the Eton team last year. thanks." "Does it hurt?" "Oh.

I wouldn't have done it. He was telling me that you thought I'd promised to give Stone and Robinson places in the----" "Oh. I know. "What rot!" he said. Mike. no. Smith told me you couldn't have done. and I saw that I was an ass to think you could have." "Oh. shall we?" "Right ho!" Mike cleared his throat. When a Chinaman wishes to pay a compliment. So they ought to be."Yes. It was Stone seeming so dead certain that he could play for Lower Borlock if I chucked him from the school team that gave me the idea. he does so by belittling himself and his belongings." "Of course not. isn't it?" or words to that effect. really. but I wasn't going to do a rotten trick like getting other fellows away from the team." "It was rotten enough. perceived that the words were used purely from politeness." "Hullo?" "I've been talking to Smith." "He never even asked me to get him a place. He eluded the pitfall. He might have been misled by Adair's apparently deprecatory attitude towards Sedleigh. It was only for a bit. and come to a small school like this. . heaps. "Sedleigh's one of the most sporting schools I've ever come across. and blundered into a denunciation of the place. not playing myself. he displayed quite a creditable amount of intuition." "No. no. that's all right." "Of course. on the Chinese principle." "I didn't want to play myself." The excitement of the past few days must have had a stimulating effect on Mike's mind--shaken it up." Adair shuffled awkwardly. as it were: for now. "I say." "Let's stroll on a bit down the road. for the second time in two days. Everybody's as keen as blazes. Beastly rough luck having to leave Wrykyn just when you were going to be captain. "Yes. fortunately. rotten little hole. Adair had said "a small school like this" in the sort of voice which might have led his hearer to think that he was expected to say. I know." "No. after the way you've sweated. even if he had.

"But I don't suppose I've done anything much. it's all right for a school like Wrykyn. there's the bell." "All right. They'd simply laugh at you. Let's get a match on with Wrykyn. You were cricket secretary at Wrykyn last year. "What fools we must have looked!" said Adair. now that you and Smith are turning out." "I couldn't eat anything except porridge this morning. You'd better get changed." Mike stopped. I've never had the gloves on in my life. You've been sweating for years to get the match on. and the humorous side of the thing struck them simultaneously. I don't know which I'd least soon be. What would you have done if you'd had a challenge from Sedleigh? You'd either have laughed till you were sick. with you and Smith. or else had a fit at the mere idea of the thing. they're worse. You see. of anything like it. Hullo.C. They began to laugh. "By jove. anyhow. with a grin. "if that's any comfort to you. we've got a jolly hot lot. so I don't see anything of him all day. and hang about in case." . we'd walk into them. which won't hurt me." "I don't know that so much. Dash this rain. They probably aren't sending down much of a team. and it would be rather rot playing it without you." "You've loosened one of my front teeth. We'd better be moving on.C. except that if one was Downing one could tread on the black-beetle." said Adair. We sha'n't get a game to-day. because I'm certain. and really. As you're crocked. If only we could have given this M. We've got math. then." "What! They wouldn't play us. and the bowling isn't so bad. but with a small place like this you simply can't get the best teams to give you a match till you've done something to show that you aren't absolute rotters at the game. it might have been easier to get some good fixtures for next season. "_You_ were all right." "He isn't a bad sort of chap. at the interval. lot a really good hammering. you've struck about the brightest scheme on record." he said. till the interval. I'm not sure that I care much. What about this match? Not much chance of it from the look of the sky at present. There's quite decent batting all the way through. I never thought of it before. It's better than doing Thucydides with Downing. As for the schools. My jaw still aches. I must have looked rotten. I wish we could play. I'm jolly glad no one saw us except Smith. when you get to know him. Downing or a black-beetle." For the first time during the conversation their eyes met. "I can't have done."I've always been fairly keen on the place. I got about half a pint down my neck just then." "It might clear before eleven. who doesn't count." said Mike.

Downing.C. he worked at it both in and out of school. The prize for a solution was one thousand pounds. We'll smash them. "I don't wish to be in any way harsh. And they aren't strong this year. If he wants you to stop to tea. and would be glad if Mike would step across. Shall I try them? I'll write to Strachan to-night." he said at last. after hanging about dismally. leaving Psmith. The whisper flies round the clubs."Yes. without looking up. with a message that Mr. "this incessant demand for you. had not confided in him. though Psmith was at first too absorbed to notice it. I had a letter from Strachan. "By Jove. wandering back to the house. "What's he want me for?" inquired Mike. You come and have a shot. So they've got a vacant date. seeing that it was out of the question that there should be any cricket that afternoon. The two teams.C. it seemed. He was still fiddling away at it when Mike returned. Meanwhile. A meal on rather a sumptuous scale will be prepared in the study against your return. who was fond of simple pleasures in his spare time. That's the worst of being popular. and the first Sedleigh _v_. match was accordingly scratched.C. and Psmith had already informed Mike with some minuteness of his plans for the disposition of this sum. generally with abusive comments on its inventor. they would. earnestly occupied with a puzzle which had been scattered through the land by a weekly paper. was agitated." said Psmith. After which the M. moved that this merry meeting be considered off and himself and his men permitted to catch the next train back to town. DOWNING MOVES The rain continued without a break all the morning. saying that the Ripton match had had to be scratched owing to illness." said Psmith. "if we only could!" CHAPTER LVII MR. regretfully agreed. and went off. To which Adair. What do you say?" Adair was as one who has seen a vision. edge away.'" .C. and whiling the time away with stump-cricket in the changing-rooms. Mike. Mr. approaching Adair. At least. Downing wished to see Mike as soon as he was changed. yesterday. "A nuisance. 'Psmith is baffled. the captain. "but the man who invented this thing was a blighter of the worst type. were met by a damp junior from Downing's. captain. For the moment I am baffled. I'm pretty sure they would. Mike and Psmith. M. The messenger did not know." Mike changed quickly. lunched in the pavilion at one o'clock. if you like. All he knew was that the housemaster was in the house.

"I didn't. he's been crawling about." "Then what are you worrying about? Don't you know that when a master wants you to do the confessing-act. or did he say he was a tea-pot?" Mike sat down. . dash it. He as good as asked me to. it simply means that he hasn't enough evidence to start in on you with? You're all right. and now he's dead certain that I painted Sammy. Jawed a lot of rot about my finding it to my advantage later on if I behaved sensibly. "You remember that painting Sammy business?" "As if it were yesterday. He's absolutely sweating evidence at every pore. I believe he's off his nut. doing the Sherlock Holmes business for all he's worth ever since the thing happened." "I know. do you mean?" "What on earth would be the point of my doing it?" "You'd gather in a thousand of the best. you know all about that."The man's an absolute drivelling ass." "I'm not talking about your rotten puzzle. But after listening to Downing I almost began to wonder if I hadn't. Give you a nice start in life." said Psmith." "Such as what?" "It's mostly about my boots. As far as I can see. "No. pretty nearly. But what did he do? How did the brainstorm burst? Did he jump at you from behind a door and bite a piece out of your leg. The thing's a stand-off. But." "He thinks I did it." "Why? Have you ever shown any talent in the painting line?" "The silly ass wanted me to confess that I'd done it. "Which it was." said Mike warmly." "Evidence!" said Mike." "_Did_ you. "My dear man. he's got enough evidence to sink a ship." said Mike shortly." "Then your chat with Comrade Downing was not of the old-College-chumsmeeting-unexpectedly-after-years'-separation type? What has he been doing to you?" "He's off his nut. "Me." "What are you talking about?" "That ass Downing. by the way?" asked Psmith. The man's got stacks of evidence to prove that I did.

. with a dull." "It is true. Mike dropped the soot-covered object in the fender. He babbled to some extent on that point when I was entertaining him. That's what makes it so jolly awkward. Are you particular about dirtying your hands? If you aren't." said Psmith. "What the dickens are you talking about?" "Go on. It must have been the paint-pot. if any. I don't know where the dickens my other boot has gone. In my simple zeal.Why. "your boot. It is red paint. just reach up that chimney a bit?" Mike stared. meaning to save you unpleasantness. "How on earth did--By Jove! I remember now. Get it over." Mike seemed unable to remove his eyes from the boot." Psmith sighed. and is hiding it somewhere. And I'm the only chap in the house who hasn't got a pair of boots to show." he said mournfully. so he thinks it's me. And what is that red stain across the toe? Is it blood? No. "Say on!" "Well. So I had to go over to school yesterday in pumps. "It _is_." "I don't know what the game is. sickening thud. But what makes him think that the boot." said Psmith. "all this very sad affair shows the folly of acting from the best motives. and it's nowhere about. [Illustration: MIKE DROPPED THE SOOT-COVERED OBJECT IN THE FENDER. I have landed you. but one's being soled." And Mike related the events which had led up to his midnight excursion. was yours?" "He's certain that somebody in this house got one of his boots splashed." "Then you were out that night?" "Rather. It's too long to tell you now----" "Your stories are never too long for me." said Psmith. right in the cart. "that Comrade Downing and I spent a very pleasant half-hour together inspecting boots.] "It's my boot!" he said at last. and glared at it. but how does he drag you into it?" "He swears one of the boots was splashed with paint. I kicked up against something in the dark when I was putting my bicycle back that night. it was like this." "Yes. Of course I've got two pairs. kneeling beside the fender and groping. "but--_Hullo_!" "Ah ha!" said Psmith moodily. That's how he spotted me." said Mike. 'tis not blood. "Comrade Jackson. and reach up the chimney. you were with him when he came and looked for them. Be a man. Psmith listened attentively. Edmund swears he hasn't seen it.

If I can't produce this boot. I suppose not. "I wonder if we could get this boot clean. in a moment of absent-mindedness. "It _is_ a tightish place." "What exactly. and--well." "I suppose he's gone to the Old Man about it." "Probably. inspecting it with disfavour. I hadn't painted his bally dog. You see. they're bound to guess why. you see. are the same. So. You had better put the case in my hands. he must take steps. The worst of it is. I can't. "confirms my frequently stated opinion that Comrade Jellicoe is one of Nature's blitherers. I will think over the matter." Psmith pondered. I _am_ in the cart. I shall get landed both ways. Masters are all whales on confession." he said. he said I was ill-advised to continue that attitude. I say. What do you think his move will be?" "I suppose he'll send for me. too. that he is now on the war-path." "And the result is that you are in something of a tight place. A very worrying time our headmaster is having. in connection with this painful affair. collecting a gang. and I said I didn't care." . and he said very well. by any chance. "was the position of affairs between you and Comrade Downing when you left him? Had you definitely parted brass-rags? Or did you simply sort of drift apart with mutual courtesies?" "Oh. that was about all. taking it all round." said Psmith. or some rot. This needs thought. then." he admitted. You're _absolutely_ certain you didn't paint that dog? Didn't do it. I wonder who did!" "It's beastly awkward. I hope you'll be able to think of something." asked Psmith. and go out and watch the dandelions growing. Of course there was no need for him to have the money at all."This." "Well. you were playing Round-and-round-the-mulberry-bush with Comrade Downing. you can't prove an alibi." "Sufficient. was it?" "Yes. "quite sufficient. So that's why he touched us for our hard-earned. and try to get something out of me. he's certain to think that the chap he chased. Downing chased me that night." said Mike. You never know." "_He'll_ want you to confess. when Mike had finished. which was me. because at about the time the foul act was perpetrated. "Not for a pretty considerable time. too. and forgot all about it? No? No." "Possibly." "I suppose not. so to speak. That was why I rang the alarm bell. I take it. and the chap who painted Sammy. then.

when Psmith. "Tell Willie. "Well. "_You're_ all right. Psmith was shown into the dining-room on the left of the hall." said Mike to Psmith. and. out of the house and in at Downing's front gate. He had not been gone two minutes. You can't beat it." said Psmith. Simply stick to stout denial. "Tell him to write." said Psmith." said Psmith." He turned to the small boy. when the housemaster came in. There was a time when they would have tried to smash in a panel. He was examining a portrait of Mr. heaved himself up again." he said. The postman was at the door when he got there. . "Is Mr. Downing at home?" inquired Psmith. caught sight of him. "They now knock before entering. who had leaned back in his chair. he allowed Mike to go on his way. passed away. Downing which hung on the wall. Downing shortly. then he picked up his hat and moved slowly out of the door and down the passage. Psmith stood by politely till the postman. "See how we have trained them. Jackson. "Just you keep on saying you're all right." said Psmith encouragingly. with a gesture of the hand towards the painting." With which expert advice. Smith." Mike got up." "Ha!" said Mr. "Don't go. "what do you wish to see me about?" "It was in connection with the regrettable painting of your dog." The emissary departed. Come in. "All this is very trying." A small boy. carrying a straw hat adorned with the school-house ribbon. Don't go in for any airy explanations. He was. Jackson will be with him in a moment. sir. Thence." said Mr. and requested to wait.There was a tap at the door. wrapped in thought. I say. Downing. "Oh. "the headmaster sent me over to tell you he wants to see you. it seemed." "I told you so. "that Mr. "An excellent likeness. "I'm seeing nothing of you to-day. at the same dignified rate of progress. Stout denial is the thing." he added. answered the invitation." suggested Psmith. who had just been told it was like his impudence. sir. having handed over the letters in an ultra-formal and professional manner. He stood for a moment straightening his tie at the looking-glass. apparently absorbed in conversation with the parlour-maid.

Between what is a rag and what is merely a rotten trick there is a very definite line drawn. any more than he could imagine doing it himself. but anybody. "I would not have interrupted you. Downing to see you." said Psmith. Mike with a feeling of relief--for Stout Denial. do not realise this. It was a kid's trick. who sat and looked past him at the bookshelves. but boys nearly always do. Downing had laid before him. It was a boy in the same house. As it happened. Downing. and conversation showed a tendency to flag." said Mr. The headmaster had opened brightly enough. is a wearing game to play--the headmaster with astonishment. "Not Jackson?" said the headmaster. stopping and flicking a piece of fluff off his knee. sir. sir. except possibly the owner of the dog. "No. would have thought it funny at first. with a summary of the evidence which Mr. but it does not lead to anything in the shape of a bright and snappy dialogue between accuser and accused. He could not believe it. Mike could not imagine Psmith doing a rotten thing like covering a housemaster's dog with red paint. There is nothing in this world quite so stolid and uncommunicative as a boy who has made up his mind to be stolid and uncommunicative. felt awkward. The headmaster was just saying. their feeling had been that it was a scuggish thing to have done and beastly rough luck on the poor brute. Smith. Is there anything I can----?" "I have discovered--I have been informed--In short. especially if you really are innocent. what it got was the dramatic interruption. Downing. as he sat and looked at Mike. it was not Jackson."I did it." and the chief witness for the prosecution burst in. CHAPTER LVIII THE ARTIST CLAIMS HIS WORK The line of action which Psmith had called Stout Denial is an excellent line to adopt. They had both been amused at the sight of Sammy after the operation. "Mr. Both Mike and the headmaster were oppressed by a feeling that the situation was difficult. The atmosphere was heavy. There is nothing which affords so clear an index to a boy's character as the type of rag which he considers humorous. A voice without said. As for Psmith . as a rule. but after that a massive silence had been the order of the day." Mike and the headmaster both looked at the speaker. Masters. Mr. unsupported by any weighty evidence. It was a scene which needed either a dramatic interruption or a neat exit speech. the extent to which appearances--" --which was practically going back to the beginning and starting again--when there was a knock at the door." Psmith! Mike was more than surprised. who committed the--who painted my dog. "but----" "Not at all. and the headmaster. "I do not think you fully realise. Jackson. After the first surprise.

" "It wasn't Jackson who did it. "What makes you think that?" "Simply this. or even thankful. though he had always had scores of acquaintances--and with Wyatt and Psmith he had found himself at home from the first moment he had met them." "Yes. who was nodding from time to time. Mike took advantage of a pause to get up. Downing leaped in his chair." "No. Downing was talking rapidly to the headmaster. Jackson. "Smith!" said the headmaster. looking at Mr. It seemed as if Fate had a special grudge against his best friends. no. Downing was saying. if possible. Mr. with calm triumph. sir. when again there was a knock. sir. worse than he had felt when Wyatt had been caught on a similar occasion." Mike was conscious of a feeling of acute depression. Well. sir. It did not make him in the least degree jubilant. sir. "Certainly. Adair. hardly listening to what Mr. tell Smith that I should like to see him.having done it." he said. with a curious feeling of having swallowed a heavy weight. what did you wish to say. He did not make friends very quickly or easily. sir?" he said. it meant that Psmith had broken out of his house at night: and it was not likely that the rules about nocturnal wandering were less strict at Sedleigh than at any other school in the kingdom." said Mr. "It was about Sammy--Sampson. if you are going back to your house." said the headmaster. to know that he himself was cleared of the charge." said the Head. All he could think of was that Psmith was done for. If Psmith had painted Sammy. Mike's eyes opened to their fullest extent. Adair?" Adair was breathing rather heavily. "Ah. we know--. Downing----" "It was Dunster. Mike felt. It was Adair. "Oh. Mr. "Come in." He had reached the door. Downing. "that the boy himself came to me a few moments ago and confessed. Downing. So Mr. This was bound to mean the sack. and er--. He sat there. certainly. "Yes. Mike simply did not believe it." Terrific sensation! The headmaster gave a sort of strangled yelp of astonishment. "Adair!" . "May I go. Adair. as if he had been running.

" "Smith told you?" said Mr. Why Dunster. I got a letter from him only five minutes ago. Well. but he wasn't in the house. I am glad to find that the blame cannot be attached to any boy in the school. had Psmith asserted that he himself was the culprit? Why--why anything? He concentrated his mind on Adair as the only person who could save him from impending brain-fever.There was almost a wail in the headmaster's voice. Downing's announcement of Psmith's confession. of all people? Dunster. was guiltless. His brain was swimming. he remembered dizzily. sir." said the headmaster. sir. "I do not understand how this thing could have been done by Dunster. "Yes. who. He rolled about. "Yes. in which he said that he had painted Sammy--Sampson. if Dunster had really painted the dog. Downing at once. The situation had suddenly become too much for him. and that the real criminal was Dunster--it was this that made him feel that somebody. I'd better tell Mr." "Did you say anything to him about your having received this letter from Dunster?" "I gave him the letter to read. Then I met Smith outside the house. despite the evidence against him. Downing." "And that was the night the--it happened?" "Yes. And why. sir. should be innocent. sir. sir. sir. and substituted for his brain a side-order of cauliflower. He has left the school." "I see. the dog. too. That Mike. Downing. for a rag--for a joke. It was a . perhaps. sir. in the words of an American author. as he didn't want any one here to get into a row--be punished for it. and that. sir. but not particularly startling. Downing's voice was thunderous." "And what was his attitude when he had read it?" "He laughed. Downing had gone over to see you." Mr. had played a mean trick on him." "He was down here for the Old Sedleighans' match. He stopped the night in the village. "Adair!" "Yes. I tried to find Mr. had left the school at Christmas. was curious." "_Laughed!_" Mr. I am sorry that it is even an Old Boy. "But Adair. and he told me that Mr. sir. that Psmith. sir?" "What--_what_ do you mean?" "It _was_ Dunster. Downing snorted. two minutes after Mr. But that Adair should inform him.

" said the headmaster. . "It is certainly a thing that calls for explanation." he observed. sir. while it lasted. Barlow. saying that he would wait." There followed one of the tensest "stage waits" of Mike's experience. sir. Smith. as the butler appeared. Outwood's house and inform Smith that I should like to see him." "H'm. "I shall write to him." "If you please. between whom and himself time has broken down the barriers of restraint and formality. sir?" "Sit down. "You wished to see me. but. discreditable thing to have done. Outwood's house. sir. what possible motive could he have had for coming to me of his own accord and deliberately confessing?" "To be sure." "If it was really Dunster who painted my dog. as you would probably wish to see him shortly. "I cannot understand the part played by Smith in this affair. Nobody seemed to have anything to say. sir. "It is still raining." "Thank you. Adair. the silence was quite solid. but slightly deprecating. "Mr. pressing a bell." said Mr. though sure of his welcome. Ask him to step up. A very faint drip-drip of rain could be heard outside the window. Smith is waiting in the hall. sir. Downing." "Another freak of Dunster's." said Mr. "told me that the boy he saw was attempting to enter Mr. He arrived soon after Mr. and there was not even a clock in the room to break the stillness with its ticking. If he did not do it. Downing. Mr. It was not long. Presently there was a sound of footsteps on the stairs. sir. He was cheerful.foolish." The old Etonian entered as would the guest of the evening who is a few moments late for dinner." He dropped into a deep arm-chair (which both Adair and Mike had avoided in favour of less luxurious seats) with the confidential cosiness of a fashionable physician calling on a patient. He gave the impression of one who." he said. feels that some slight apology is expected from him. but it is not as bad as if any boy still at the school had broken out of his house at night to do it. I suppose. He advanced into the room with a gentle half-smile which suggested good-will to all men." "The sergeant. Smith." "In the hall!" "Yes. "kindly go across to Mr. The door was opened. Barlow." "Yes." said the headmaster.

" "Sir?" The headmaster seemed to have some difficulty in proceeding. as a child. "The craze for notoriety." Psmith turned his gaze politely in the housemaster's direction." "What!" cried the headmaster. but have you--er. "I should like to see you alone for a moment. sir. Jackson." proceeded Psmith placidly. Downing burst out." "But. any--er--severe illness? Any--er--_mental_ illness?" "No. sir.Mr. "Smith. "Er--Smith. Mr. "The curse of the present age. sir. let us say. "Er--Smith." . there was silence. Have you no explanation to offer? What induced you to do such a thing?" Psmith sighed softly. I do not for a moment wish to pain you." "Yes. Psmith bent forward encouragingly. Then he went on. "Smith." he said. Human nature----" The headmaster interrupted. Psmith leaned back comfortably in his chair. you came to me a quarter of an hour ago and told me that it was you who had painted my dog Sampson. "It is remarkable. "Smith. with the impersonal touch of one lecturing on generalities. one finds men confessing that they have done it when it is out of the question that they should have committed it. It is one of the most interesting problems with which anthropologists are confronted. "----This is a most extraordinary affair. Downing might I trouble--? Adair. Smith--" began the headmaster. He paused again. When he and Psmith were alone. when a murder has been committed. sir. "how frequently. The headmaster tapped nervously with his foot on the floor." he replied sadly." "It was absolutely untrue?" "I am afraid so. do you remember ever having had." He made a motion towards the door. like a reservoir that has broken its banks.

sir. "You _are_ the limit." "I will certainly respect any confidence----" "I don't want anybody to know.. at last." said Psmith meditatively to himself. "What's he done?" "Nothing. Smith. as he walked downstairs. "It was a very wrong thing to do." said the headmaster hurriedly. You think. sir. Of course." said Psmith. You are a curious boy. "Well?" said Mike." said the headmaster." . the proper relations boy and--Well. of sometimes apt to forget." "I think you are existing between can return to it say." He held out his hand." said Psmith. Dunster writing created a certain amount of confusion.. "Not a bad old sort. sir." said Psmith cheerfully. sir.. We had a very pleasant chat. "but. Downing seemed to think he had painted Mr. Smith. let me hear what you wish to course. then. "I did not mean to suggest--quite so. I shall. Smith. sir. it was like this. Smith." said Adair. never mind that for the present. "Good-night. and then I tore myself away. For the moment. quite so." "Well. Smith?" "I should not like it to go any further." There was a pause. and there seemed some danger of his being expelled. This is strictly between ourselves. if you do not wish it. of course.. tell nobody.. that you confessed to an act which you had not committed purely from some sudden impulse which you cannot explain?" "Strictly between ourselves." * * * * * Mike and Adair were waiting for him outside the front door. Good-night.. We later. Downing's dog. "Jackson happened to tell me that you and Mr. sir----" Privately. so I thought it wouldn't be an unsound scheme if I were to go and say I had done it. but he said nothing. That was the whole thing."There is no--forgive me if I am touching on a sad subject--there is no--none of your near relatives have ever suffered in the way I--er--have described?" "There isn't a lunatic on the list. "Of course. I must drop in from time to time and cultivate him. "Well. the headmaster found Psmith's man-to-man attitude somewhat disconcerting. "By no means a bad old sort.

I'm surprised at you."Do you mean to say he's not going to do a thing?" "Not a thing. as the latter started to turn in at Downing's. "what really made you tell Downing you'd done it?" "The craving for----" "Oh. for it was a one day match. In a way one might have said that the game was over. Psmith. I believe it was simply to get me out of a jolly tight corner. you're a marvel." "Well." said Psmith. WRYKYN The Wrykyn match was three-parts over. "my very best love. "Jackson's going to try and get Wrykyn to give us a game." said Mike." * * * * * "I say. had only to play out time to make the game theirs. when you see him. There is a certain type of . and things were going badly for Sedleigh." Psmith moaned. I hope the dickens they'll do it. who had led on the first innings. Sedleigh were paying the penalty for allowing themselves to be influenced by nerves in the early part of the day." said Mike obstinately." said Adair. It is men like him who make this Merrie England of ours what it is. Nerves lose more school matches than good play ever won. I believe you did. CHAPTER LIX SEDLEIGH _v_. and Wrykyn. "And it was jolly good of you." said Mike." said he. Adair." "And give Comrade Downing." said Adair. and that Sedleigh had lost. too. I never thought to hear those words from Michael Jackson." "What's that?" asked Psmith." "Oh." "Well. "My dear Comrade Jackson. chuck it. You aren't talking to the Old Man now. Psmith thanked him courteously. "Good-night. They walked on towards the houses. "I'll write to Strachan to-night about that match. "They've got a vacant date. all the same." Psmith's expression was one of pain. You make me writhe. I should think they're certain to." said Mike suddenly. "you wrong me. "By the way.

Psmith. going in first with Barnes and taking first over. a collapse almost invariably ensues. for seventy-nine.C. and the others. as a rule. the team had been all on the jump. He had an enormous reach. Ten minutes later the innings was over. declined to hit out at anything. and from whom. Even on their own ground they find the surroundings lonely and unfamiliar. Stone. Sedleigh had gone on to the field that morning a depressed side. this in itself was a batsman who is a gift to any bowler when he once lets his imagination run away with him. Seven wickets were down for thirty when Psmith went in.C. but his batting was not equal to his bowling. Adair did not suffer from panic. he raised the total to seventy-one before being yorked. had been beating Ripton teams and Free Foresters teams and M. teams packed with county men and sending men to Oxford and Cambridge who got their blues as freshmen. so Adair had chosen to bat first. The weather had been bad for the last week. at least a fifty was expected--Mike. A school eleven are always at their worst and nerviest before lunch. the bulwark of the side. The team listened. Sedleigh. but he was undoubtedly the right man for a crisis like this. but then Wrykyn cricket. Wrykyn might be below their usual strength. as he did repeatedly. Sedleigh would play Wrykyn. The teams they played were the sort of sides which the Wrykyn second eleven would play. It was likely to get worse during the day. and had been caught at short slip off his second ball. with his score at thirty-five. but were not comforted. playing back to half-volleys. that Wrykyn were weak this season. Sedleigh had never been proved. and were clean bowled. and he had fallen after hitting one four. Wrykyn had then gone in. Ever since Mike had received Strachan's answer and Adair had announced on the notice-board that on Saturday. on Mike's authority. whatever might happen to the others. lost Strachan for twenty before lunch. The subtlety of the bowlers becomes magnified. and he used it. Experience counts enormously in school matches. However weak Wrykyn might be--for them--there was a very firm impression among the members of the Sedleigh first eleven that the other school was quite strong enough to knock the cover off _them_. He had had no choice but to take first innings. Mike. several of them. had played inside one from Bruce. from time immemorial. and. It was unfortunate that Adair had won the toss. and that on their present form Sedleigh ought to win easily. the Wrykyn slow bowler. Whereas Wrykyn. Unless the first pair make a really good start. To-day the start had been gruesome beyond words. Taking into consideration the state of nerves the team was in. reached such a high standard that this probably meant little. crawled to the wickets. It was useless for Adair to tell them. That put the finishing-touch on the panic. July the twentieth. all quite decent punishing batsmen when their nerves allowed them to play their own game. who had been sitting on the splice in his usual manner. the man who had been brought up on Wrykyn bowling. and Mike. with Barnes not out sixteen. with the exception of Adair. Three consecutive balls from Bruce he turned into full-tosses and swept to the leg-boundary. and the wicket was slow and treacherous. assisted by Barnes. Robinson. and . Psmith had always disclaimed any pretensions to batting skill. had entered upon this match in a state of the most azure funk.

This was the state of the game at the point at which this chapter opened. As Mike reached the pavilion. You can break like blazes if only you land on it. Mike knew the limitations of the Wrykyn bowling. always provided that Wrykyn collapsed in the second innings. But. As is usual at this stage of a match. This was better than Sedleigh had expected. with sixty-nine to make if they wished to make them. And when. So he and Psmith had gone in at four o'clock to hit. The score was a hundred and twenty when Mike. his slows playing havoc with the tail. But Adair and Psmith. and the collapse ceased. as they were crossing over. it might be possible to rattle up a score sufficient to give them the game. and then Psmith made a suggestion which altered the game completely. proceeded to play with caution.finally completed their innings at a quarter to four for a hundred and thirty-one. So Drummond and Rigby. which was Psmith's. who had taken six wickets. At first it looked as if they meant to knock off the runs. skied one to Strachan at cover. Wrykyn started batting at twenty-five minutes to six. with an hour all but five minutes to go. And it seemed to Mike that the wicket would be so bad then that they easily might. was getting too dangerous. and lashed out stoutly. "Why don't you have a shot this end?" he said to Adair. and refused to hit at the bad. at any rate. The deficit had been wiped off. And when Stone came in. It would be too much to say that Sedleigh had any hope of pulling the game out of the fire. Adair declared the innings closed. the next pair. all but a dozen runs. their nervousness had vanished. especially Psmith. They were playing all the good balls. Adair bowled him. and by that time Mike was set and in his best vein. two runs later. He treated all the bowlers alike. and finished up his over with a c-and-b. when Psmith was bowled. The time was twenty-five past five. It was on Mike's suggestion that Psmith and himself went in first. and which he hit into the pavilion. Seventeen for three. who had just reached his fifty. Wrykyn decided that it was not good enough. Psmith got the next man stumped. A quarter past six struck. and the hands of the clock stood at ten minutes past six. Seventeen for three had become twenty-four for three. they felt. And they had hit. and he was convinced that. helped by the wicket. it looked as if Sedleigh had a chance again. if they could knock Bruce off. having another knock. and after him Robinson and the rest. for Strachan forced the game from the first ball. restored to his proper frame of mind. at fifteen. and they felt capable of better things than in the first innings. had never been easy. and an hour and ten minutes during which to keep up their wickets if they preferred to take things easy and go for a win on the first innings. "There's a spot on the off which might help you a lot. Changes of bowling had been tried. but it was a comfort. It doesn't help my . At least eight of the team had looked forward dismally to an afternoon's leather-hunting. but there seemed no chance of getting past the batsmen's defence.

and Mike. * * * * * Psmith and Mike sat in their study after lock-up." said Mike. collapsed uncompromisingly. while the wicket-keeper straightened the stumps again. Adair will have left. is to get the thing started. Sedleigh was on top again. he's satisfied. but you say Wrykyn are going to give Sedleigh a fixture again next year?" "Well?" "Well. "I say. and the tail. he walked more rapidly than a batsman usually walks to the crease. Adair was absolutely accurate as a bowler. Adair's third ball dropped just short of the spot. diving to the right. I shall have left. when Adair took the ball from him. I don't wish to cast a gloom over this joyful occasion in any way. and it'll make him happy for weeks. "Still. The captain of Outwood's retired to short leg with an air that suggested that he was glad to be relieved of his prominent post." said Psmith. After that the thing was a walk-over. "I feel like a beastly renegade. Wrykyn will swamp them. and five wickets were down." "When I last saw Comrade Adair. Five minutes before. have you thought of the massacre which will ensue? You will have left. I'm glad we won. Now Sedleigh has beaten Wrykyn." "He bowled awfully well. and chucked it up. The ball hummed through the air a couple of feet from the ground in the direction of mid-off. Still. you see. playing against Wrykyn. was a shade too soon. the great thing. "he was going about in a sort of trance. beaming vaguely and wanting to stand people things at the shop." said Psmith. Now there was a stir and buzz all round the ground. Two minutes later Drummond's successor was retiring to the pavilion. Adair's a jolly good sort. Sedleigh had been lethargic and without hope. There is nothing like a couple of unexpected wickets for altering the atmosphere of a game." "Yes. The next man seemed to take an age coming out. That's what Adair was so keen on. because they won't hit at them. There were twenty-five minutes to go. Incidentally.leg-breaks a bit." "I suppose they will. As a matter of fact. and he had dropped his first ball right on the worn patch. got to it as he was falling. The next moment Drummond's off-stump was lying at an angle of forty-five. Psmith clean bowled a man in his next over." Barnes was on the point of beginning to bowl. Sedleigh won by thirty-five runs with eight minutes in hand. demoralised by the sudden change in the game. They can get on fixtures with decent . hitting out. The batsman. discussing things in general and the game in particular.

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